Image by New England Secession via Flickr
This is a train that is gathering a lot of steam lately—social media marketing for political campaigns. From Obama to Brown, we have seen both major parties use it well. However, it’s a unique social media marketing challenge.
Applying traditional (if there is such a thing, yet) social media strategies are unlikely to produce much success. You have to reshape your plan to fit a unique marketing environment.
Here are some of the things we see in most campaigns.
Starting at Zero
Unlike most brands, political candidates start every election cycle at ground zero. They have…
- Zero brand
- Zero money
- Zero people
- Zero organization
- Zero plan
In some ways that makes social media marketing challenging. However, with an experienced team it can be your biggest impact on all fronts—brand, money, and people.
Your number one goal is to build strong name id and positive community as fast and cheap as possible. How do you get that done?
Social Media for Politicians
1. Have an online campaign headquarters – You have to establish an online campaign headquarters. At the very least a web page, blog, or Facebook fan page. People go to the Web first when they want to know something. You need to be there (on your own terms).
If you don’t establish a Web presence immediately and build a strong search position, a Google search for your name is likely to return only the negative your opponent puts there.
2. Identify existing affinity groups – Just like in fund raising make a list of all your friends, family, and organizations you are involved in. Do they have a strong Internet presence? Do they have websites or spend large chunks of their time on Facebook? (Secret Tip: Your crazy, avid Farmville Facebook friends are now your secret weapon.)
These affinity groups should be recruited to endorse and (online) campaign for your Internet presence. Just like fundraising and voter outreach, you want to grab the attention and support of large groups to make the most of your limited time.
3. Don’t forget Facebook – Speaking of Facebook, all that needs to be said here is that it is the second largest destination on the Internet (behind Google). Even more surprising is that Facebook just passed Google as the number one referring website—meaning, if you want people to come to you tell them on Facebook.
4. Use Twitter for distribution – Any good PR person will tell you that a message needs distribution to have any impact. Online the best way to broaden your distribution is through a strong Twitter network. It takes work and it take more than one Twitter user, but with the right stuff you will be reaching thousands of voters in no time.
The beauty of Twitter is that unlike the traditional newswire you can precisely target—demographics, issues, influencers, media. Again, it takes a good audience development plan, but once it’s built it packs a punch.
5. Target voter and media – Targeting voters is a no brainer. However, social media can also be very effective at capturing the attention of the media. News staff, both traditional and new media are resource constrained and increasingly competitive. That has turned social media into the modern assignment desk. They know that leads and stories often break there first—so they are listening. Make sure you are feeding this modern newswire.
An added bonus to engaging media online is that most journalist and news outlets are also using social media to promote their own stories. So, if done right you are likely to get an additional distribution source too.
6. Most importantly, LISTEN – If you don’t do anything else at least listen in on the social media chatter. Use a social media monitoring tool like Kaleidico’s Eavesdropper to see what friend and foe are saying. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to engage on every point, but at least you know what is brewing. Having a good handle on sentiment is critical in a campaign and social media can be your quickest feedback loop.
Guaranteed Blind Spot
Speaking of listening—I can guarantee if you are not in the social media game in this election cycle it WILL BE your most dangerous blind spot. The statistics are overwhelming every age group is using social media. In fact, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over 55 and Facebook users over 35 nearly doubled in the last 60 days—do you want to take a chance on skipping these voters?
If you want to learn more about using social media in your political campaign contact us at 866.667.5253 or send us an email to email@example.com.