There’s a lot of information about how much and how often people are using the web for political campaigning. For example, you may hear that Facebook now reaches over 70% of the US Internet population each month. You may think that’s a great statistic, but the truth is little more complicated. Here are three myths that new candidates tend to have when planning out their online campaigns.
A Facebook Page Can Replace A Campaign Website
How could running an online campaign through Facebook be a bad idea? Facebook has hundreds of millions of users and is one of the most popular websites in existence. Not only that, it’s free!
Good points, but the reality is not as simple. Having a campaign Facebook page is a great idea, and if you are running, and any serious political campaign, no matter how small, should create a Facebook page in order to reach out to supporters and voters.
Using Facebook as a replacement for an actual stand-alone campaign website is a mistake. Here’s why:
- Facebook is closed network. In order for people to see you Facebook content, visitors are required to join. Not everyone is a member of Facebook, and some people will never become members.
- A Facebook is limited in what it can do. There are many Apps that can add functionality, but some of them, such as RSS feed display apps, are dependent on you having an existing website or blog.
- Your information is not your own. Your page is also subject to the generosity of Facebook, who can pretty much remove anything it wants, at any time. If someone claims you are violating their Terms of Service, you could be in trouble.
The Internet Will Pull In Tons of Money
The web exists as a conduit to fund raise. Just because you have donation buttons on your website and social media profiles does not guarantee that anyone will give your campaign a dime. In 2010, only 2.4% of nonprofits were able to raise over $10K on Facebook, according to Blackbaud. Just 2% of nonprofits raised between $1K and $10K on Twitter.
Can your political campaign make money online? Absolutely, but it takes work and coordination. Use your offline events to drive people to your website and make good use of your email list. Make it easy to donate online and leverage your other sources of communication to make your supporters aware how and when they should donate.
Done properly, the effort put into online fundraising will pay off.
Candidates Can Wait Until The Last Minute
Candidates that wait until a month before the election to start an online presence are missing the boat. While getting online can be fast, building a strong level of support takes time. For campaigns on a tight budget, it makes even more sense to start campaigning online as early as possible.
For reasons outlined in Running for Office as an Online Candidate, campaigns should start their online campaigns as early as possible. Make sure that your existing online presence is accurate and positive. Then establish yourself on the major social media websites and start to build a following of friends and supporters. This sets that stage for when you later officially announce the campaign and campaign website. By having an existing number of online supporters, you can leverage that existing network of contacts to build immediate exposure.
What additional online myths should campaigns need to be aware of?
For less than the cost of a mailing, any local candidate can easily build a complete campaign website! Online Candidate sites contain easy-to-update pages, built-in volunteer and donation forms, social networking links and much more.