Get online with your political campaign

You must have an online presence with your campaign. You really don't have a choice. Not only do the voters expect it, but getting online can be your most powerful tool.

Recent national politics has thrust into the spotlight the power of having a huge digital following online, particularly with social media.

Online tools provide the opportunity to directly talk to your voters without having to worry about spin or mischaracterization that can come from traditional news coverage.

Additionally, and perhaps more important, online platforms easily allow you to listen and engage with your voters.

The days are gone where people solely make their voting decisions in town hall meetings, debates, newspaper interviews, etc. People's schedules are too busy to attend these things.

People now take to internet search engines and social media to find out about candidates and their positions. If your race hasn't been covered in the news or a potential voter doesn't know your name but is just generally searching the race title, they may never find you.

This is why you need an online presence. To make yourself and your campaign easy to find and accessible to answering questions.

You need to consider having at least two types of online presence a website and social media. I will outline the purpose of the two below.

Website

A website is by far one of the best investments you can make for your campaign. It's a place where you get to control the message 100% and provide more information to your public.

A website is especially helpful if you are new to politics with low name recognition and/or trying to run a cost-efficient campaign.

Here are three reasons you should consider a campaign website:

1.  Greater search engine visibility for your campaign.
A campaign website will allow people to find you when they search for you through a search engine. It is possible people can find you social media pages but that is only if they are searching primarily by your name.

2. There is more information about you and your platforms/issues.
A website allows you to get into as many details as you want; you can tell your full story. Additionally, if you are only spending minimal money on printed campaign material having a website will allow avoiding printing multiple issue pieces since you can share your website address.

3. All information about you and your campaign consolidated in one spot.
Campaigns see an uptick in website traffic after a mail piece hits or an ad is run on TV or social media. People want to go somewhere where they can get all the information in one spot.

Social media

If you don't have time to develop a website (it really doesn't take long) or you don't have the cash (it doesn't have to cost much or anything), you should at least have a presence on one social media platform.

The thing about social media is you need to be, at minimum, semi-active if you're not, you probably shouldn't be on any platform. But I really encourage your campaign to at least be present on Facebook. The average age of Facebook users also overlaps with the most reliable voting block.

Twitter and Instagram are other platforms you may consider having a campaign presence. If you are currently active on Snapchat you can use that as well, but it wouldn't be somewhere where you should focus if you don't currently have a presence.

Here are three things to remember with social media:

1. Be active.
No matter what social media platform you choose you must be active. If you don't plan on having a website, you should at least be on Facebook. Only be on as many platforms as you have time. Spend the time, or get a volunteer, to a create social media posts based on your issues and share those along with a few updates from the campaign.

2. Engage with your followers.
Social media is a medium that requires engagement. Don't ignore those who post and ask questions on your social platforms. Create posts in a way that invites engagement or directly asks for it.

3. You can (maybe) build your campaign around social media.
Social media can be your strongest outreach tool. Social platforms allow you to hyper-target messages and engage with voters.  If you are going spend a lot of time and money on social media you need to be very comfortable with the platforms, very active on the platform/s and use multimedia ie. photos, posts, videos and Facebook Live or Periscope.

 

Each online presence serves a different purpose for your campaign and ideally work in concert, but if you feel like you need to pick just one, then do so.

To help you get started, check out this video on how to set up your political candidate Facebook profile.