In today’s world if you are not visible in the digital space, you don’t exist.
Step one is to have a website. A majority of voters now cite the Internet as their primary source of information when making decisions about who to vote for. If you don’t have a “digital footprint,” you are dead in the water.
Once your website is set up, what next? Below we walk through a few of the social media channels that campaigns usually deploy and discuss their importance and how you should use them. In all cases, authenticity is critically important. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Be yourself.
How to use Facebook. Facebook is the most important and effective social media platform for campaigns. In the seminal book “How to Win an Election” by Stephen Shadegg – the man who managed all of Barry Goldwater’s Senate campaigns – he describes what he calls the “social precinct.” This was defined as a person’s influence within their social sphere: church, clubs, work, parents of children who attend the same school as their children, friends, and relatives.
The modern version of the “social precinct” is Facebook. As such, it is one of the most powerful tools for a campaign in reaching voters and their like-minded network. That is, if you can identify strong supporters of your candidacy, you can use the networks of these individuals to spread your message.
Facebook’s algorithm rewards posts that are localized and create a narrative. One little known fact is that every post on Facebook is assigned a “relevancy score” between 1 and 10. Your goal is to attain as high a relevancy score as possible. The reason is that posts with higher relevancy scores show up higher in the news feed of users. For example, if you post something that earns a relevancy score of 3, it might be the 8th or 9th item in a user’s news feed – making it less likely that the user will see it and engage the post. However, if you earn a relevancy score of 9 or 10, it will appear at the top of the user’s news feed, and lead to increased impressions, views, engagements and click-through rates.
To get your posts as high a relevancy score as possible, make the post as localized as possible and include other people in the post. If it’s a video, mention the town, community, or area you are in and have other people in the video. Use the name of the town, community, or area in the text of the post.
Have a regular schedule of posting on Facebook. While you may not need to post every day early on in the campaign, try to post at least three times a week. Use video (as simple as being filmed on a phone camera) at least once a week and cover a different issue with each video. Also use static posts to cover various issues. The reactions to posts are important pieces of data that will inform your campaign as to which voters react to which messages.
Once you have posted a series of videos and static posts about various issues, do an analysis as to which issues gained the most traction. For a more in-depth look at the data, utilize an analytics company (like Analytics Awareness Partners discussed below) to give you specific details about what your audience looks like and how to model that audience to reach even more voters.
How to use Instagram. Instagram is a great platform to push your campaign narrative visually. While it is less important than Facebook – primarily because you can’t capture the kind of data Facebook provides, it is a great platform for you to demonstrate your personality and give your campaign an authentic feel. Post pictures with voters, leaders, etc. with brief descriptions. Always tag those who are in your pictures and use the hashtags that identify your campaign and your themes.
How to use Twitter. The most important use of Twitter for a campaign is to communicate to thought leaders and the media. Very few voters make decisions of who to vote for based on Twitter. But it is an important tool to drive a campaign narrative and respond to issues that arise in the campaign.
Set up a Twitter account that reflects your own personality. Rather than a “campaign account” you should treat Twitter as your own personal account. Yes, it can be managed by campaign staff, but it should be in your voice. This will give your account more credibility and the ability to react directly to breaking news, attacks, or events of interest in your area.
How to use Snapchat. Snapchat is in its infancy for use in politics. This is primarily because the vast majority of Snapchat users are under the age of 34. More importantly, the age group most likely to vote – voters age 55 or older - account for less than three percent of Snapchat users.
Just look at these demographic statistics:
· 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.
· 45% of Snapchat users are aged between 18-24.
· Snapchat reaches 11% of Total US Digital population.
If you decide you want to use Snapchat in your campaign, make sure that you have an active user of Snapchat managing the account. The nuances of Snapchat can be totally baffling to the average person, and doing anything “uncool” will decimate any goodwill you think you might gain by being on Snapchat.
How to deal with trolls. Every campaign has to be prepared to deal with trolls – the pesky, snarky commenters on social media that trash everything you do. This is the world we live in. In fact, if your campaign does not have a couple people stalking your opponents and causing them anxiety, you are missing an opportunity.
Tips on how to deal with trolls on the various social media platforms:
Facebook: Generally, allow critical comments to be posted to our account. Make sure that you have a few supporters who will (politely) engage with the trolls. This will have a bandwagon affect in having more of your supporters rally to your defense.
If the comments are vulgar or offensive, hide them. Do not delete comments. You want to have the data you can collect from critical comments because you can use that data to suppress your voter contact list (mail, phones, etc.) so you don’t waste valuable campaign resources communicating with people who will not vote for you.
Twitter: If you have an aggressive troll harassing you on Twitter, block them. The lack of data collected from Twitter does not warrant having to deal with the nonsense of trolls.
Instagram: Like Twitter, because there is limited data you can collect from Instagram, feel free to delete critical comments on your posts.
What advice would you give state legislative, county and municipal candidates on social media?
For smaller campaigns – state legislative, county or municipal candidates – your main channel for social media should be Facebook. It has the deepest reach with all voters segments and provides important data. You might also have a Twitter account to deal with the media, but don’t expect that Twitter will make much, if any, difference in reaching voters.
Need more help? Want to increase your reach?
Analytics Awareness Partners (A2P) uses proprietary technology processes to maximize your reach and effectiveness. Through message testing “micro-buys” they will identify the correct audience. Using their Angler database of 115 million Social Profiles allows them to expand that modeled target audience by identifying their engaged networks and people who closely resemble their attitudes and attributes.
Their human-assisted MatchEngine allows them to match those social IDs to consumer and other databases at one-tenth the cost of traditional matching.