Political campaigns can be a tough business. Many people vie for the same seat, and for most candidates, especially first time candidates, no one knows who they are, or from where they came. If no one knows you, and you have several opponents, how do you reach voters? How do you deliver your message?
Social media is the easiest, most cost effective way to reach voters, introduce yourself, engage with them, and build relationships. Online engagement will never replace the need to knock on doors, or attend critical events, but it does humanize a candidate to a broad audience. For most Americans, politicians are not accessible, and in these difficult times, rarely trusted. Social networks allow regular citizens to ask questions, learn about a candidates qualifications, and determine their views on issues critical to them.
In addition to reaching voters, networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and others allow candidates to rally their supporters to spread the word, invite people to events, and compile a list of volunteers to assist with the campaign. By targeting geographic areas, a candidate has the ability to concentrate their digital media campaign in their precise voting area. Whether an election is at the township, county, state or national level, there are various ways, based on each individual network, to reach voters.
Statistics show that political candidates who utilize social media networks have a far greater chance of being elected to office. For instance in the 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama had roughly 380% more social media followers than John McCain. When you are able to reach millions more people than your opponent, it stands to reason that you will have an advantage. In the 2012 election, Barack Obama’s social media penetration verses Mitt Romney was even further apart. We know how both of these races turned out. These are examples of national races, but on a local level, the value can be even greater. When a candidate can win or lose a race by a few hundred or worse 5 or 10 votes, reaching as many people as possible becomes even more important!
The most important thing for anyone, business or political candidate, to remember, is that social media isn’t about you, it is about your audience. All posts on social networks are permanent and public. They cannot be deleted. Well, they can be, but chances are, they will be captured first. So, in order to have a successful online campaign, one must:
* Communicate messages clearly
* Speak TO your audience, not AT them
* Demonstrate leadership
* Illustrate community involvement
* Focus on the constituents needs, not your own
* Answer the tough questions, don’t avoid them
* Be honest and sincere
* Remember that running for office is about representing all of the people, not just the ones who agree with you
* Stick to the facts
*Stay positive and on message
Engage, engage, engage!!
Have you ever engaged a politician or political candidate online?