Six Best Practices for Democrats on Social Media
March 18, 2022
Having a social media presence is a necessity for candidates in all elections, large and small. Running for office requires you to build trust with your voters. Without it, it’s exceedingly hard to convince people that you’ll follow through on your campaign promises. One of the best ways to establish trust is by communicating with your followers on social media!
Think of your social media presence as a portfolio. By asserting your campaign’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’re assembling a portfolio of reasons your constituents should get you into office. You’re building trust by showcasing genuine moments from your life, both before and while on the campaign trail. Let’s take a brief look at how you can most effectively manage your campaign’s social media presence.
Establish Your Identity
Who are you? No, really, who are you? Your social profiles present an opportunity to place your character and your message front and center. This is especially important for voters who may not have heard of you before clicking on your profile. First impressions count, and having a meaningful, cohesive page that illustrates a well-thought-out brand goes a long way. Now let’s see what this looks like in practice.
Take your qualifications, experience, and accomplishments and put them in your bio, captions, and even your profile picture. These qualifications combine to make a resume that you want to broadcast to the rest of the world. Lay it out in a clear, concise way for people who may glance at your profile preview before scrolling by. “This is me. I am a candidate for x office in y district. These are my qualifications, and this is what, with your help, I’m going to accomplish next.” Simply having a well-organized profile isn’t enough, however. You’re going to need plenty of content.
Post Content Regularly
Your campaign message should be at the forefront of voters’ minds in the months leading up to election day. That’s why regular, consistent posting is key. You want voters to not only remember your name when they see it on their ballot, but associate that name with your candidate’s face and the reason they’re running in the first place—their “why.”
The best way to make this association in the minds of voters is with consistent messaging inside frequent, engaging content. Maximizing on-platform engagement with your followers will set you up for success when it comes to the GOTV phase of your campaign. Social media algorithms highly favor consistent content, but posting regularly isn’t enough to maintain engagement with your followers. Let’s examine a few of the best forms of content for your followers to engage with.
Showcase Your Hard Work on the Campaign Trail
Many voters may find you agreeable, likable, and an overall good person. In most cases, that’s still not enough to earn their vote. Showcasing your hard work on the campaign trail is one of the best ways to prove you have the character and charisma for public office. This is especially true for races and primaries crowded with likable candidates.
Share videos of town hall events, meet and greets, and stories from your campaign. Have your team document the fun and hard-working environment they find themselves in. Don’t be afraid to share some of the challenges of campaign life, as long as it intends to showcase your candidate’s hard-working attitude. Examples of “good” challenges to share with voters include waking up in the early hours to meet with constituents, working long hours to draft upcoming legislation, and various forms of volunteering. Anything that showcases dedication and an unwavering work ethic on the part of your candidate is golden.
Let’s look at a great example from our most recent Presidential election. President Biden once delivered the closing portion of his speech amidst a downpour of rain. The photo from that event went viral online, and became one of the many visual indicators of his resilience on the campaign trail leading up to November.
Talk Directly To Your Fans
Live Streaming, particularly on Instagram, is an effective tool to communicate with your followers in a more engaging way. The feature makes your social media campaign more interactive by allowing you to speak to your constituents and followers in real-time. Remember, voters like candidates that are more interactive and responsive to their questions! When participants post questions, and react to your stream, that drives platform-friendly engagement numbers and builds interpersonal trust between the candidate and their followers.
AOC’s outstanding digital media presence is in large part the driving force behind the impressive number of small-dollar donations she was able to raise before the past election. She’s also one of the growing number of candidates and elected officials using platforms such as Instagram live to give her page a more “town hall” vibe. Even impromptu or informal Q&As with your candidate can be a fantastic source of user engagement, which is a leading indicator of their likelihood of voting.
Tag Partner Organizations and Highlight Collaborations
Nothing online exists in a vacuum. Your content won’t reach undecided and uncommitted voters if you don’t proactively insert yourself into relevant spaces. That’s why it’s imperative to tag every event, location, venue, and meeting you have while campaigning.
Did your candidate take part in your city’s local Pride celebrations? Did your candidate meet with a prominent local thought leader, celebrity, or notable figure for a brief discussion of the issues? Find the relevant hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, and then use them to your advantage. Doing this not only shows voters that you’re engaging with a community larger than your campaign, but also that your candidate is committed to the same values as the people you’re tagging.
Tailor Your Content to the Platform
In general, we recommend candidates prioritize their presence on Facebook first, then Twitter and Instagram second. Why? Facebook has the largest monthly active userbase of the bunch, with a UI optimized for getting people to click on links. This makes it perfect for fundraising, whereas Instagram is still handicapped without the ability to embed individual links to a post.
Keep the constraints and the strengths of each platform in mind throughout your campaign. Is breaking news developing in relation to your district? Twitter is likely the best for responding to headlines on-the-fly, and ensuring voters that you’re keeping up with every headline. Instagram is perfect for sharing those on-the-ground photos and videos of your campaign events. Also, both Instagram and Facebook have fantastic live video functions that we mentioned earlier.
At the end of the day, lots of content can certainly be repurposed for another platform. Any square photo can be posted to any of the three major platforms, but making platform specific-content, like twitter threads and live stories, is the best way to make the most out of each platform that your campaign is on.
Ready to Get Started?
Now that you’ve been briefed on how to manage your social media, it’s time to start setting up your accounts and building your presence online. Remember, it’s not just the national and statewide office candidates that need a social media presence. Every campaign, from your local school board to the presidency, stands to benefit from social outreach on the most popular platforms.
Plus, once you’ve managed a fantastic social media operation on the campaign trail, you get to keep that account and its followers after the election! You’ll witness the lasting effects of the trust you’ve built between your followers and the candidate long after your initial campaign is over.
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