You cannot run a successful political campaign without tipping your toe into the world of social media. Traditional campaign methods now include a "social media how to" section. Here at Ecanvasser we always love to encourage our users to explore lots of different platforms ( there are new ones cropping up every day). We hope you can find some actionable points in the following Campaign Blueprint resource.
What is Social Media?
Lots of out activity are now happening online and that is where we are most interactive with other people, whether that is commenting on a particular news website or Tweeting our support for our local sports team. People are present online and therefore it is an excellent space to campaign during an election.
Social media sites are popping up daily and the most popular ones are the ever famous Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. For any candidate to make a digital imprint, social media is imperative.
So let's go into a little bit more detail on some of these social media sites.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube are most campaigns go-to platforms. Facebook for the push, Twitter for the thoughts, Instagram for the fun and Youtube for useful explainer videos.
Taking some time and investing in growing your social media presence will aid your campaign. Engagement and building a relationship with your followers before you launch your bid is a solid way to start.
Be sure to go where your audience is and spread the word to them. It wouldn't make sense to post several times a day on a Linkedin where you have no followers and aren't engaged in a community there.
The most popular platform around due to its constant reinvention. It's the best place to start to drive traffic to your campaign website or just boost your campaign activity. In fact, after email, Facebook is the most powerful 'share' tool and is responsible for eliciting more contributions to political campaigns than any other social networking tool!
Ask those who have already contributed to share your run on their Facebook wall. Build this message into the Thank You email message you send to your contributors.
Build as many "correct" connections as you can. When we say correct, we mean, consider yourself as a public figure and make friendships that you feel will directly benefit your campaign. People in similar roles would be a great place to start. Once you have a clear foundation made, then you can expand to reaching out to voters.
Don't be afraid to comment. People actually like when they get notifications saying "such and such has left you a comment". It shows that you are paying attention and people are needy!
Create events and use Facebook to grow the attendance. Invite all the connections you have managed to build. Communities live and breath Facebook so you may as well get involved.
Don't believe anyone who tells you that Twitter is dying - it's simply not true!
It's quick, free, direct, and is a great place for you to have casual interactions with your followers. Be sure to share your short-link in your posts, and answer questions or comments about your campaign.
Just like any online forum, there is an opportunity to find yourself on the wrong side of an interaction - negative experiences are more common on Twitter than any other platform. Check out our video below which go through some easy ways you can avoid the uglier side of the platform.
Be sure you have a pre-determined hashtag to rally your posts around, and include it in each of your posts (on Twitter, but also Facebook, Instagram etc.). We've seen campaigns have great success with their community rallying to post the hashtag, so much that it can trend on Facebook and Twitter! For example; #Don4Mayor or #SarahForSenate, short and sweet.
Jump on current news topics. There's a little sidebar calling out what's trending in your location - get yourself acquainted, it's worth keeping an eye on.
Be brave, share your opinions (but only after you ask yourself, would future me Tweet this?). Be aware of backlash, however, it comes with the territory.
Speaking of which, avoid negativity if you can, the job of being a politician can be overwhelming at times, you don't need to be fighting more battles on your Twitter timeline.
Top 7 Twitter Tips
Many politicians and candidates who aren’t versed in how to run a clean and responsible account come to us and ask us one simple question, how do we share our opinion without upsetting people? Not easy but here are a few tips.
1. Your twitter account is now to serve your voters/followers, you can no longer be validated by saying "opinion are my own, not those of my employer".
2. We don’t mean to silence your own voice but you must now be considerate of all your followers.
3. You have a responsibility to serve those people who may not have voted for you so be wise when choosing what you are saying.
4. Don’t set out to antagonize anyone and don’t add yourself to any arguments that may not concern you.
5. Ask people to message you directly if you feel they are trying to confront you on an issue, always look like you are willing to listen.
6. Share positive updates but also share your concerns in a democratic manner.
7. Some tweets are just reflective of your thoughts at that exact moment, if you think you may change your mind later, don’t tweet it.
Our current favorite here at Ecanvasser HQ. It's a valuable social channel for image-driven campaigns. If your story can be told visually or has a strong visual component, consider integrating Instagram into your Facebook and Twitter content strategies. Instagram is growing in popularity rapidly thanks to its story feature, something which will be familiar to the Snapchat users. You can post quick video updates directly to your users to access any time within a 24hr window.
Political organizations that we have been particularly impressed with on Instagram of late are Venstredk and the fdp party, this is largely due to their consistency and we can say from experience that to make this a successful channel, consistency is what is needed.
Use the story feature to help build your confidence in front of the camera. I find this great especially if you are still trying to solidify your online identity.
You control the content and tone - so use appropriately and always consider your audience.
Engage people in your conversations by tagging them in your stories. Have fun obviously.
Think about how often people casually search Youtube? It's a lot, isn't it?
It is a great medium where you can share your political campaign video ads and test campaign messaging. Anyone can set up a channel for free and build an audience organically. The number of politicians who have Youtube channels is pretty substantial.
You need to have a decent videographer on your team or at least have it in the budget to hire someone to produce and edit your videos as it is very time-consuming.
Ensure quality is high and that you are a candidate who is comfortable in front of the screen, practice makes perfect.
Frequent uploads are essential because having inactive accounts won't reflect well on you as a candidate.