Politics and social media is a dangerous game, have you been listening to anything that happened in 2017?
We have rule books on why some politicians should be allowed operate a Twitter account - as a matter of fact, should we just remove smartphones and tablets from some high-level politicians right now?
But why use social media then? Simple, you're better in than out - that's why we have some guidelines for you.
Social media reaches the masses and 'the masses' is what you need if you want to be a leader.
I spoke to a newly elected councilor recently and due to the low budget campaign she was running, I expected her to tell me how beneficial and cost-effective social media was for her overall operation. I was wrong, she had a very “meh” attitude to the campaign. She used it - for certain things which were informative. So which social did she use?
Picking Your Poison
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are most campaigns go-to platforms. Facebook for the push, Twitter for the thoughts and Instagram for the fun.
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 stage 1.
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.
Facebook is a great opportunity to drive traffic to your campaign. 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 such 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.
Twitter can be used for quick, direct, and casual interactions with your followers. Be sure to share your short-link in your posts, and answer questions or comments about your campaign. However, in light of recent events, here's our warning letter about Twitter.
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.
Instagram is 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.
Don’t Over Depend
The trick is to view your presence on social media platforms as a small piece of a larger puzzle. Consider the online version of your campaign as merely another facet of your grand mission. You do not want to throw all your eggs in one basket. Is that enough elaborate analogies to drill home our point here?
I was interested to talk to a number of our successful users and the one thing that surprised me most was that they used social media in the background of their campaigns. They used it to promote their messaging consistently - they didn't use it replace any other aspect of their operation.
Why not go all in with social media and forget direct outreach? Want the short answer? no matter how much hard work you put into growing your social media audience, most of that audience will not see the social media posts that you publish. If every single one of our Twitter followers saw one of our tweets and clicked on the link, Ecanvasser would be getting millions of visitors every day.
Play to your strengths and encourage active canvassing and campaigning, send people then to your social media channels after a first interaction. Politics is inherently local and that means building (in real life) from the ground up.
We would love to hear about your experiences in using various platforms to boost your campaign so don't forget to comment below.