Campaigning online is no simple task, especially for political campaigns and non-profit organizations with limited means. However, focusing your efforts and cultivating followers on specific platforms can pay off come Election Day.
Politicians use social media to help recruit volunteers and raise money. It also helps strengthen the political base. Local candidates sometimes wonder if social media can be used for their own election campaigns. It doesn’t matter if you are running for federal, state or local office, a successful political social media campaign can be achieved at any level.
The tactics may be vary depending on the race you are involved with, but with the majority of voters engaged in social media, it is important to make an effort to reach out to them online.
Here are some things that will give a boost to your campaign’s social media efforts.
Get Your Campaign Verified
Before your campaign begins social media advertising, you will want to have your campaign verified and authorized. To provide greater transparency, Facebook, Google and Twitter now require user verification.
Verification allows social media users to easily identify ads that deal with politics, to know who paid for them, and whether the ad was authorized by a candidate or campaign.
One downside to verification is the time it can take. Give yourself a few weeks to become authenticated. You will be snail-mailed verification cards to confirm your address. You won’t want to wait until the last minute to request your confirmation postcard. Otherwise you might not be able to run any advertising.
Don’t Just Rely On Facebook Posts
Using social media for election campaigns is more than just broadcasting a message and hoping someone sees it. With declining Facebook reach for individual Page posts, you may want to test the water with Facebook advertising. The can expand your reach to followers, friends of followers or others based on specific demographic criteria such as by location, age or interests.
To boost a specific post, click on the Boost button from any of your posts, or you can log into the Facebook Ads Manager and step through the process there.
In terms of cost, Facebook ads are affordable. You can start an ad campaign for as little as five dollars. You can increase spending as you focus on reaching more potential supporters. Build your audience throughout the campaign and target them for specific events and GOTV efforts.
Use Images With Your Social Media Posts
As social media has become more visual, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are more image-friendly than ever. Adding a picture with a post will take up more space and help capture attention from viewers.
If you are sharing a blog post or web page, an image is usually pulled in from the source. If not, use a new engaging image and attach it to your update. Real campaign photos work better than stock images. You can even edit images online using tools like Pablo.
While we are on the subject of images, make sure that all of your social media profile headers incorporate your campaign or party’s colors and fonts into the page design. While Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all have different dimensions, your header images should have a similar look and feel. You want to brand your political campaign across the web even into the real world with your signage and print material.
Use Video To Promote Your Campaign
With the ability to record video from just about any phone, there is no reason not to include video content in your social media mix. Create a campaign YouTube channel to host your videos in once central location. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook allow for video posts. However, it is best practice to directly upload video to those other channels than to embed a YouTube video link into your posts. You will get more initial exposure on those platforms in this way.
Add Your Social Media Info To Your Email Signature
Every personal and campaign email you or your campaign staff send is an opportunity to mention your social media profiles (and website). Add social media links into your email signature.
Post Updates From The Right Account
This is a big one. Make sure you and your campaign staff keep personal and campaign social media posting separate. Personal posts sent through official campaign accounts have caused embarrassment for many campaigns. One way to keep everything separate is to use a separate browser for just campaign posts. That way you don’t even have to worry about logging in or out of different accounts.
Ask Your Fans And Followers For Help
It’s not enough just to have followers. You need your followers to help increase growth and engagement. On Facebook posts, ask for comments, likes and shares. For Twitter, ask your followers for retweets. The key is to make the right call to action. If your post is about raising money, ask specifically for a donation. If you are looking for volunteers, ask your followers to go to the signup form and register. Be specific. Never assume that someone will just know what to do.
Use Social Listening To Track The Conversation
Social listening tools lets you follow social conversations about the candidates, the election itself and various related issues. There are several services that do this, such as Mention and SocialMention. Hootsuite also has a social monitoring platform.
A few items to track include:
- Your campaign and candidate name, including alternate spellings or misspellings.
- Your opponent’s names.
- Slogans, taglines, or mottos.
- Other keywords or phrases relevant to your campaign.
Unfortunately, none of the tools listed above are comprehensive. They catch part of what is out there but don’t always pick up every relevant link or mention. It’s a good idea to use multiple services to track online mentions.
You can also use social listening to keep track of your opponents. Politics moves fast on the web. You must be prepared to act and react quickly when something important happens.
Hopefully, these tips have given you some ideas for putting together your own social media political campaign strategy.
Politicians of all parties have come to understand the value of an online presence. It is a powerful tool to speak directly to voters and supporters. It can also be used to influence voter turnout and help improve your chances for Election Day victory.
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