From Campaigns and Elections by Sean J. Miller Democratic firms are expanding their self-service digital platforms to meet growing demand from candidates
Using Social Media to Your Advantage in Your Political Campaign
With almost 70% of US adults using social media, any candidate should be savvy at using these platforms to get their message to voters. Whether you’re a social media novice or consider yourself an Instagram Influencer, here’s how you should be thinking about your online profile as you launch your political campaign.
Take the time to audit, or create, your social media properties.
As a political candidate you are going to need, at a minimum, a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You are probably going to need a presence on Instagram and Snapchat. All of these communities have functions you can use to invite all of your friends to connect with you. If you have read our e-book on running for office (link) you know we encourage candidates to invest time in building out good lists for many reasons – including their use in helping to populate your social media accounts. Use these lists to try and connect with everyone you know (but not yet with people you don’t know).
And please, before you do begin to grow your online presence, take down all those embarrassing photos. Weird late night tweets? Delete them now.
Pay attention to Facebook and social media protocols.
Post regularly about relevant topics. Every now and then, make it personal, like “Thanks to my husband for helping me walk precincts on his birthday.” If you don’t have something interesting to say — don’t say it. But if something interesting, relevant or funny happens, post it. People ask if they should remove negative comments if “trolls” appear on your social sites. We usually recommend removing anything rude, lewd or untrue but leaving any legitimate discussions.
Growing your social media audience.
You’re in the middle of your campaign and you notice you don’t have many people following you on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure that when you connect with people who give you their support, you immediately Friend, Follow and Connect to them — most of them will reciprocate. After that, start posting relevant content on your social media pages — often. Make sure you post and share a newspaper article about a local issue, your interview on a local blog, a picture of you at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. This will help drive engagements with users on your social media channels and keep them engaged and wanting to learn more.
If you want to get in front of even more people and grow your audience faster, there are always paid social media ads, like those on Facebook (see next section). From promoting your page to boosting a post so that even more people will see what a great interview you did, paid ads will get you out and in front of your targeted audience on social media.
How do I use Facebook advertising?
If you have your Facebook page up and you want to amplify your presence there, you can use Facebook’s advertising to do just that and grow your social media presence. One thing to consider upfront is which people you want to target — people in a particular city, those over 50 years old, those interested in education or health care, etc.? Facebook allows you to target those categories and other custom audience segments so it’s important to consider this before you launch your advertising campaign. Paying particular attention to targeting is vital because you wouldn’t want to waste your campaign dollars serving your Facebook ad to someone who isn’t going to vote for you or can’t vote for you or is obviously opposed to your particular viewpoint.
Next is what you want your audience/campaign to do — get more people to like your page, read an article you shared or watch a video of you at a debate? Facebook will optimize your ad to target for these end goals, so make sure your content is created to do just that.
Lastly, how long do you want to serve your ad and how much do you want to spend? You can spend as little as $10 up to a nearly infinite amount and for as short as a couple hours to many months. Make sure to consider that when you spend too little, you may reach too few people; if you spend too much, your ad may display too frequently and turn people off. Similarly, if you run a campaign for too short a period of time, you may not catch enough of your targets while they are on Facebook. And if you run it for too long, your ad may not display frequently enough to capture attention.
Want more information on running effective digital advertisements – you can download our ebook on digital media here.
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