In recent years, a political social media campaign has become an essential part of the electoral process. For candidates to really establish their presence on the various platforms, they need to begin using these platforms long before their campaign even starts. Keep reading to learn to effectively build a social media presence for the next election.
Why candidates should start early on social media
There are a lot of reasons why politicians need to be on social media long before they even announce their intention to run for office:
- Cheap online presence: All you need to stay do is sign up and send out your message.
- Millennials: Younger people comprise a large part of the voting, and social media, public.
- Listening tool: Use it to obtain commentary on issues of public concern, then build better campaign platforms.
- Mobilization: Social media can quickly rally supporters on political and social issues.
These are all reasons to build your political social media campaign early.
I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support – unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) July 20, 2017
Which platforms for your political social media campaign
Finding your target audience is always the first concern. Here are some considerations:
- Focus on your most likely supporters. Create a persona of the idea supporter you have in mind and use this as a guide to determine which platforms they are likely to use. You need them right away as social media influencers to spread your political message to those who may not be on your side yet.
- You also need to consider your own social media usage. Think about the platforms you are already using and consider whether these align with what your target audience uses.
- When planning to create additional social media accounts, consider how you will manage them. This will help you avoid potential “ghost towns.” These are social media accounts that you are not able to maintain in the long run due to limited resources, or an inability to gain traction.
It is also important that you define the specific roles each platform will play in your political social media campaign. This makes the entire effort more organized and will more effectively push you up prior to the campaign period.
Your political campaign on Twitter
Twitter’s biggest allure for politicians is its real-time nature. With it, you can quickly provide commentary on current events and other social issues. You can also quickly engage with supporters and the wider voting public. Former President Barack Obama does this a lot on his Twitter account.
Thinking about our neighbors in Mexico and all our Mexican-American friends tonight. Cuidense mucho y un fuerte abrazo para todos.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 20, 2017
When building your official Twitter account, don’t immediately go into campaign mode. Instead, focus on using it as a conversational tool. This makes you more relatable in the eyes of the public, which will help during the campaign. This strategy is pretty much the entire reason why we now have President Donald Trump. He spoke to his supporters in their language.
Use Devumi’s Twitter Followers service to quickly give your account traction and make it more visible to voters. Everyone wants to follow a successful politician with a growing number of supporters. This is how you are going to get their attention right away when you first start.
Your political campaign on YouTube
YouTube videos are a great way for you to explain your ideology. It also easily integrates with other social media sites. This makes it easier for you to spread your videos to a wider audience.
Your initial presence on YouTube should be geared more towards engaging people in discussions. Focus your video content on topics that are timely and relevant to your constituents’ concerns.
At the end of each video, encourage viewers to participate in the discussions. You can also provide them with additional materials that can help them understand your position. When you first start posting videos you will have a hard time getting people to watch them. A way to improve your social proof in this regard is by using our YouTube Views Service. This will push your numbers up, and soon seen you popular.
Your a political campaign on Facebook
A well-designed Facebook page is great for supporting your efforts on other channels. Your page can be used to bring together all the campaign materials that you have released and make them more accessible to the public.
The page can also be used for organizing and mobilizing supporters. To aid you in this organization, set up groups, and organize specific events with hard dates.
Your political social media brand
Having a clear idea of what you want to represent is important in fleshing out your branding strategy. Consider the impression that voters already have of you. Think about how you can refine this impression further. This will serve as the basis of the brand that you will be creating.
Simplifying your brand message also helps the voting public have a better grasp of it. Get rid of the unnecessary fluff and stick to a single message. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain worked so well because it was focused on so singularly. This message should also be used consistently across all your social media channels to better establish it.
You also need to consider how you will brand other candidates. The idea here is by creating a label for your competitors, you will have something to compare your personal brand to. This gives the opportunity to tell people why you would be a better choice.
Creating your branding narrative
The voting public will better buy into your personal brand if they understand the story surrounding it. You need to have a narrative to tell them about the brand. Tying that narrative to current social events is an effective way to make it more relatable. Integrate these current events in your social media presence by responding to them in real time.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is well-known for his branding as an outgoing politician. He carries this over to his social media narratives.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 8, 2017
You also need to present a more personal aspect of the political brand you are building. This gives the voting public something to relate to. Do this by routinely sharing behind-the-scenes content about yourself. The mayor of Toronto gets out for some coffee:
Made a visit to Himalayan Coffee House for some java. Great local coffee shop in North Toronto neighbourhood. pic.twitter.com/Q9zWUQV8M4
— John Tory (@JohnTory) September 22, 2017
Doing the same social media actions as voters also helps in establishing that personal connection with them.
Aligning your brand with your political platform
It is important that your personal brand on social media aligns with the larger political platforms that you are espousing. Go back to to the perception of your platforms by the general public and find ways you can present these through your brand.
Trudeau is, again, a good example here as he uses his persona to push the platforms of the Liberal Party that he belongs to.
Liberals believe support for Israel should never be a wedge issue, despite Harper's efforts to turn it into one. #MunkDebate
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 29, 2015
Your personal actions will have an impact on how your platform is perceived. Be careful on how you conduct yourself on social media. Respond to any negative commentary by addressing the concerns that are being raised. Use social media to quickly send out your response to the public.
Using social media to engage the voting public
Having a loyal core of supporters helps a lot when doing early engagements. These supporters are the ones that feel the strongest about your platforms. Young voters must be part of your core of supporters as they are the ones most attuned to social media.
Once you have your team of ardent supporters ready, it’s time to mobilize them. Provide them with plenty of materials that will help them talk about your ideologies. You can also encourage them to make content of their own in support of you.
— Hillary Clinton Fans (@fans_clinton) September 22, 2017
Being active on social media
To make their political social media campaigns more effective, candidates themselves should be active on the various platforms. Use this as an opportunity to share your personal insights on various issues. You can also directly engage the public in discussions to better explain your views.
A strategy that you would also want to include in your social media engagement is the promotion of “armchair activism.” These are social media activities, such as liking, sharing, or commenting on a post, that voters do to show their support for your statements without having to vote or donate.
This tweet from Obama is a good example of armchair activism, netting more than 4 million likes.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…" pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
Use such activities as a gauge of how well your positions are being received.
Lyne your political social media campaign with larger political activities
The comments and feedback you get on social media will be useful in refining your platforms prior to the start of the campaign period. Look through these results and find ideas that you can incorporate into your platform. Don’t forget to acknowledge the people who provide great ideas. It will make them more likely to side with you if they feel that you are listening to their voices.
For those who miss out, post photos and videos of your speeches and appearances on social media for the benefit of the wider public.
Social media is all about having relevant content. Don’t miss an opportunity to create and share content with your future voters.
Build a long-term political social media campaign
Mounting a political social media campaign long before election season starts is a great way for candidates to establish themselves in the public consciousness early. To pull this off effectively, you need to:
- Be on the right platforms: Choose those social media sites where you can find them. Use those platforms well, a good Twitter campaign will include a hashtag marketing campaign.
- Personal brand: Define how you are different from other politicians and carry this branding over to your social media presence.
- Engage early: Interact with the voting public on social media long before your political campaign starts. This will help you refine your election message in preparation for it.
Follow all of these tactics and voters will be more likely to pick your name once they hit the polling precincts.