Today, even the most local political campaigns are finding that an online presence is critical to election success. Traditionally strong candidates can be outclassed by opponents who simply run a better online campaign. Knowing the opportunities and taking advantage of them will improve your chance of success.

Here’s a quick overview of the basic elements of an online political campaign:

Your Online Reputation

When you start a local political campaign, candidates should be mindful of the information that voters will encounter. Your online reputation is what people are saying about you online. It’s the information that is found when anyone searches about you or your campaign.

As a candidate running for office, you will want influence over what people see, hear and read about you on the web. To do that, you need an online identity. For political purposes, that means creating a personal brand. That means getting yourself – your history and goals – out on the web. This is done by creating identities on social networks, creating a campaign website, active online engagement, and generating positive buzz.

The ultimate goal of building an online identity is search result page domination. This means that when someone searches your name, they will find positive information about you in the top search results.

Your Campaign Website

By starting a political campaign website early, you can raise campaign seed money that much faster. A website set up for donations makes it easier for donors to contribute. Someone is more likely to quickly click and donate than to write out a check, put it in an envelope, and mail it out.

Starting a campaign website and social media presence early helps establish your online ability to raise critical seed money. Click To Tweet

Having a central location to promote the different elements of your campaign comes is important. A website with a good domain name is standard for just about any political candidate today.

Social Media

Signing up for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and every social network you can find is a recipe for disaster. Building a consistent presence on multiple social sites is hard work, so it’s best to start by only tackling a couple at first – and sticking with them.

Building an online social network before you start your political campaign gives you a leg up when you announce your intention to run. The payoff is that your group of friends and fans will be the first to check out your campaign website, provide feedback on it, help promote it, and perhaps even help in your fundraising and volunteer efforts.

Start your online network long b4 you launch your political campaign. Click To Tweet

Campaign Email

Despite the popularity of social media, email is still the ‘killer app’ of online campaigning. A multifaceted online push is the most effective way to build support. By starting early, you can accumulate more e-mail addresses from supporters. Using email to keep in regular contact helps get your word out and keeps supporters informed.

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If you plan to use email extensively, use an email marketing service. Your ISP will not allow you to send mass emails from personal accounts. Email services have arrangements with ISP that allow for better delivery rates. They also have tools that allow people to automatically add and remove themselves from your email list. By using more advanced techniques such as split-testing, you can target your messages better and achieve a better response rate.

Online Advertising

Your campaign website, social media and email campaigns are all promotional methods, but paid social media exposure (like Facebook ads), pay-per-click, banner advertising on popular local sites, text messaging and targeted online ads help get the word out. Be sure to budget for online advertising expenses from the start – and save a portion of the budget for your GOTV push.

Budget for online advertising expenses in your political campaign, particularly for major announcements and #GOTV. Click To Tweet

Kind of Online Advertising (But Not Exactly)

This includes SMS/texting campaigns. Text messaging has a high delivery rate and is fairly simple to set up. Once you create an account with a short message service (SMS), you will be able to pick a Keyword for your campaign. People then opt-in by texting that Keyword to a particular number. (Ex: Text SMITH4GOV to 555432) Text alerts can then be sent to all subscribers on the list. You can begin a mobile texting push with a small budget.

Of course, you will want to tie all of these elements into your online fundraising, support building, and GOTV efforts.

Making a successful run for office isn’t easy. It takes a multifaceted effort. With the majority of voting adults following or engaged in politics on the web, even small campaigns should take the time and resources to promote themselves online.

After all, your election success can hang in the balance.

Online Candidate websites include tools and design options to make building your online presence as quick and pain-free as possible.



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