César Chávez’s lifelong advocacy on behalf of working people changed our nation forever… which is why every year, America celebrates his legacy on César Chávez Day — today, March 31st.

Founded by César Chávez in 1962, the United Farm Workers (UFW) has marked this special day for the last 50 years. Last year, we were honored to work with United Farm Workers (UFW) to help increase the event’s visibility online.

When he was once asked by a union member how he wanted to be remembered, César replied, “If you want to remember me, organize!” With his directive in mind, we set out to create a Facebook application that would not only honor Chávez’s legacy, but also bring the farm workers’ struggles from the fields into the homes and offices of people all across the country. The strategy? Create an app where users could donate their Facebook status with a Chávez quote to honor the historic organizer’s legacy and mark his passing.

But with so many Facebook apps out there, what made this one a success?

First, we worked to make sure the app would be as streamlined and user-friendly as possible. How many times have you encountered an app that’s confusing or buggy? We wanted to avoid these common mistakes and create the best possible user experience! This also meant requiring as few steps as possible.

All within a single step, users were presented with multiple options for their status in a visually straightforward manner. To keep in line with Facebook’s terms at the time (note: always check their latest platform policies!), the chosen option only updated the link preview attached to the user’s status. It did not pre-fill the actual status box. We were also able to track what option users selected. For those wondering, the historic quote, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people” beat out all the other options by a landslide!

But as with anything, promotion was absolutely crucial to the app’s success — and promote it we did! We joined the UFW in promoting the app furiously, employing tactics such as:

  • Sending an initial full-file message to their list on César Chávez Day asking their supporters to use the app, along with an additional email to non-action takers in the afternoon;
  • Pitching the app in advance to niche news outlets, including sites like Change.org;
  • Featuring the app on the UFW homepage;
  • Reaching out to our own personal networks, asking anyone we knew with a Facebook presence to use the app;
  • Providing sustained updates on the app’s progress — including posting updates on well-known recent users (such as Senator Barbara Boxer and Carlos Santana!) and major milestones; and
  • Promoting interaction by posting articles, questions, and asking supporters to share their own stories.

The result? Over 8,300 people used the app within the first week, resulting in over one million news feed impressions.

We’d call that a success! But what would César Chávez have thought about our César Chávez app? Jocelyn Sherman at UFW has some thoughts about that:

“It’s simple. When the union began, we had picket lines. We collected petition signatures in front of a store — one by one. Times have changed. The internet and social networking are this generation’s version of the picket line and holds tremendous organizing possibilities. As someone who knew César Chávez and how open he was to new technology, I can tell you he would have loved it.”

PS: Want to show your support for César’s birthday and his commitment to the dignity of all people? Donate your Facebook status to help mark César’s birthday today!