Case study: Political digital strategy
“I feel like I am already working for my constituents”
The words of one our client candidates on his digital strategy for campaigning this year in the wake of Covid 19.
Why did a sixty-something who was beaten in the last election by a much younger candidate decide that he was going to go all-in with digital? It was because in 2018 he felt his campaign was way out of touch with voters and the way in which communication works nowadays. What is impressive about this candidate’s adoption of digital tech to run his campaign this time out is that he focuses on the most important element of each leg of the digital strategy. Let me explain.
Social media advertising
“Advertising on Facebook is like plastering your district in billboards"
That's the way our client thinks about social advertising and Facebook political candidate pages. He is not concerned about the exact right message getting to the exact right person, that’s for digital agencies to worry about. As a State House candidate, he just needs to cover the ground to get name recognition up. His team spent a couple of hours a week making sure his advertising is hitting the right towns and suburbs with the latest messaging based on recent feedback. They don’t worry any further than that.
When I asked what his strategy was for developing supporters digitally he broke it down very simply. Getting someone you don’t know to support you with their time or money is hard. You need to give them one of two things:
- You need to embody about 80-100% of what they believe
- You need to be someone that they believe can get something done
Getting people to support you means thinking about how you can do one of those things and then asking for the support with a donate or volunteer button. Once someone does agree to support him try to make it as easy as possible by having a simple to use donation widget or by giving volunteers an app that directs them on what to do.
Digital campaigning for politics is exactly the same as traditional campaigning in every case. Talking to voters directly can be done on video chat, phone and social media DM’s. Old mailers can be replaced with email campaigns. Billboards and lawnsigns can be replaced with hashtags and social advertising. Focus groups can be replaced with digital surveys. Kissing babies is a tough one to digitize but pretty much everything else has an alternative online or in-app format.
So get prepared to face your supporters virtually from now on.
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Bearing in mind this is a sixty-something who never really did social media, his take on social is really interesting. His view is that social is a chance to be as real as possible, and not a curated version of himself. Showing your true personality, talking to people directly as if they were in front of you, and not giving your social media accounts over to the twenty-something staffer is his golden rule. He prefers to speak to camera and post stories or videos as he believes this is less open to misinterpretation.
Is he worried about deep fakes and video misinformation? “This is a state rep race”, he says, “if they really want to go to that trouble then I can’t stop them,”.
Digital campaigning is the only type of campaigning available at the moment but this down-to-earth take on digital strategy could be copied by many of the 100’s of thousands of candidates this year.
Read our latest release, "The Beginners Guide to Political Campaign Strategies" where Ecanvasser details how a political operation, regardless of the size of the race, requires a lot of planning and thorough research.
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Listening to our current users, we are aware that there can be an internal struggle of team management when it comes to organizing quickly. To get people out on doors, the back and forth over Whatsapp, Messenger, and (insert other apps here) can be endless. We aim to streamline this process for you with Ecanvasser. Now organizers can commit via the Walk app (their canvassing app!) and get notified in the run-up to the event so that they don’t forget. By building it into the door knocking process life has gotten a lot easier for campaign managers.