We live in an increasingly digital world, and since most of our political discourse occurs on social media, the two (politics and social media) are irrevocably linked. Anyone who wants to run effective campaigns must have a firm grasp of social media, whether they like it or not. Public figures have an even tougher time navigating social media and politics, since every move is being scrutinized, and it’s all too simple to tweet or retweet misinformation. To help you prevent political and social media faux pas, we’ve put together this handy list of social media campaign tactics.
1 - Fact Checking is a Must
More than half of Americans get their news from social media, regardless of the fact that about six in ten see this as a problem because social media companies can control their daily news feeds. On any given day, social media feeds can have multiple news updates, making the importance of fact-checking all the more important. Before you make any statement, comment, or post, you should take the time to fact-check it. Doing this builds credibility with your audience and constituents. Even if you delete a post after making a false claim, those deleted tweets become a part of your public record and begin to mar your reputation as a trustworthy authority figure.
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2 - Use Live Video To Connect with the Public
Instead of talking to a screen in an attempt to address voters, using live video allows you to have meaningful conversations with the public and to make personal connections. It’s especially helpful to local politicians who may have a smaller sphere of influence and fly under the radar of mainstream news outlets. Live video is also a very versatile tool in the hands of campaigners: it can be used for behind-the-scenes footage, virtual town halls, campaign updates and responses to a stance that your political opponent has made.
3 - Exercise Grace By Choosing Not to Feed Trolls
Managing social media is tough - especially when you are taking care of multiple accounts. It’s not uncommon to experience burnout, even more so when it seems like people have nothing better to do than give you a hard time. Trust us on this though: confronting awful comments is rarely worth it. Instead, redirect your efforts to building a sense of community in the comments and discouraging needless fighting. No matter your political opinions, it never hurts to follow Michelle Obama’s now-famous “When they go low, we go high” advice. Besides, it’s not like you can block your critics anyway. This means you’ll probably need to rely on your supporters and community to report inappropriate posts.
4 - There’s More to Social Media than Twitter and Facebook
Yes, demographically speaking, they are some of your best bets for political accounts, but millennials and Generation Z are becoming increasingly interested in activism. For that reason, politicians would do well to consider investing in Instagram, TikTok, and/or Snapchat. Rather than maintaining several accounts, though, we recommend that you cross-post. Doing so will help you reach more voters and save more time than working to think up new content for each platform.
5 - Make Fundraising a Top Priority
Facebook ads are by far the most well-known advertising and fundraising tools, but there are other fundraising techniques that campaigns can add to their digital campaign strategy. Campaigns can request donations via secure links (by adding the link to their social media biography section or as a “pinned” post).That said, even the most supportive voters don’t want to be constantly spammed by donation requests, so they should be used sparingly alongside campaign news and other informational posts.
6 - Ask and Answer Questions on a Regular Basis
Doing this is a fantastic way to increase engagement with the public. Asking questions encourages more dialogue between yourself and followers and also shows that you’re willing to listen to their needs and experiences. These questions can be asked on any social media. However, there are some platforms (like Instagram) that allow you to read questions privately and then publicly post the responses. This gives you the ability to pick and choose which questions you’ll answer and gives you time to mull it over, ultimately allowing you to post more thoughtful responses.
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7 - Use Infographics, Video, etc to Your Advantage
If you haven’t looked at the numbers regarding how much more effective visual content is than written content, you should. About three in four marketers say that more than 70% of their content had visuals, so it’s safe to say that adding visuals is a must for savvy politicians. With tools like Canva, it’s easier than ever before to create a nice graphic to post on social media. If you’re looking to try your hand at video, you don’t need to have editing experience. Cell phone footage taken on the spur of the moment has become increasingly popular. Visual content is regularly shared, so doing this enables you to find new followers.
8 - Realize that Some People Avoid Politics
Many people aren’t big on political discussions, whether it be because they’re burned out, frustrated by arguing with people, or just aren’t interested in it. Instead of allowing that to become a source of frustration for you, keep doing what you’re doing. Start discussions with followers and be consistent. It may take time but you need to put in the work to get your cause out there.
9 - Post Every Day
Speaking of consistency, you’re going to need to post every day to stay relevant to your audience. Since politics change on a daily basis, you’ll want to post relevant content every day. That can become exhausting, between legislative updates, news, elections/events, and requesting donations, but that’s also why sharing graphics and cross-posting can be beneficial for your campaign.
10 - Sprinkle in Some Good News
As time goes on, it seems that political tensions only get worse. Many people (including those referenced in point #8) are tired of all the political infighting and he-said-she-said. Even those who are friendly to your cause and 100% on-board will appreciate some non-partisan, positive news. Be sure to add some inspirational local stories and celebrations into your news feed. Your followers will be grateful for it.
We hope that those pointers will help you blend the world of politics with that of social media. As long as you stay consistent and interactive, develop a thick skin, use visuals and think before you post, you’ll be well on your way to creating a fantastic social media campaign. Digital campaigning isn’t easy, though, and you may find yourself in need of tools to use along the way. Nation Builder offers software, tools, and support for nonprofits, advocacy groups, enterprise organizations and political candidates. They even offer a free trial so you can take a test-run of their features to see what works best for you!