Revisited: Using the Power of Digital to Grow Your Local Party - National Democratic Training Committee

As shelter in place orders extend, we are once again highlighting digital platforms to keep campaigns moving and people motivated because building a deep bench of Democratic talent doesn’t stop for pandemics.

In the time of COVID-19, connecting to and growing your membership digitally is more critical than ever before. Local-level Democratic infrastructure can’t afford to sit idle.

Think you can’t hold meetings? Hear from your elected officials? Activate party recruitment?

Think again!

Here are some tips to get your local party through these next months and maintain a sense of continuity in the process.

Membership Meetings

If you’ve already established a Facebook presence for your local party, you can use Zoom to host online membership meetings.

Zoom has features like in-conference polling, screen sharing, and chatting that can help make meetings feel interactive. You can also pre-record reports and updates to send to your membership later. For larger interactive meetings, it can be helpful for a volunteer to own managing tech and participant questions, while your party chair and other officers give updates. Zoom is increasing security to help keep your information safe. Other video conference software, such as Google Hangouts and Google Meet, are also effective. Google Meet launched a grid view to easily see everyone in the meeting.

You should also be using social media to keep communicating with your membership.

If you don’t, at a minimum, have a Facebook page, now would be a good time to start building that page. Invite your members to “like” and “follow” your page, and encourage them to invite their friends, family, and colleagues as well. Be sure to maintain a consistent flow of varied content and find opportunities to push for audience interaction. Even simple calls to action like, “Let us know what you think in the comments” can drive organic engagement with your Facebook audience.

Ready to level up your local party’s social media strategy? Check out NDTC’s Using Social Media Platforms Course to get started.

Elected Official Talks

Now is a great time to coordinate online Q&As with local elected leaders. Especially now, people want to hear from accessible, competent leadership. Streaming talks facilitated by elected officials is a great way to give folks that chance. Mediums like Zoom, Facebook Live, IGTV, and YouTube Live make it easy to reach large audiences with few equipment demands, beyond a smartphone or personal computer.
Oftentimes an elected official will have their own presence on social media as well. This presents a great opportunity for cross-promotion, attracting new likes, follows, and engagements.

If you haven’t yet seen Stephen Curry’s Instagram talk with Dr. Anthony Fauci, take a look at how streaming talks can be used to share information in an engaging and accessible format.

Candidate Forums & Debates

During such a pivotal election year, you’ll want to be sure your community still has the tools to make informed decisions at the polls.
Consider streaming virtual candidate forums and debates. You, as local party leadership, can moderate, and people can still hear from the candidates who hope to represent them.

When choosing a streaming platform, consider the level of audience interactivity you’d like. If your streaming event is open to the public, be prepared to put extra care and attention into moderating questions and chat messages. Zoom’s guide to keeping “uninvited guests” off of events is a handy resource for moderators to review in advance of hosting.

As with elected official talks, you’ll want to integrate candidate forums and debates into your larger digital content calendar. Don’t have a digital content calendar set? Take NDTC’s Planning Your Digital Content Calendar Course for all the info you’ll need to get started, as well as some free, downloadable templates you can start using immediately.

Party Recruitment

The organizing energy that kicked off the 2020 election cycle isn’t gone; it’s just trying its best to stay home. People are just as fired up about ending the national nightmare that is the Trump presidency as they were before the pandemic took hold…maybe even more so, given the unmitigated disaster that the administration’s response to coronavirus has been.

Tap into that energy by finding and connecting with new members online! Have members drive organic recruitment by sharing your digital content across their personal and professional networks.

If paid advertising is a part of your recruitment strategy, now might be a good time to review and rebalance your Facebook and Instagram ad buys to better account for folks’ shifted schedules and device usage patterns while working from home.

Texting for Voter Engagement

Door knocking and public gatherings may be out of play, but opportunities abound to outreach to voters via text. Getting an effective peer-to-peer or mass texting campaign off the ground doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Not sure where to start? Check out NDTC’s Texting for Campaigns Course.

Grow Your Local Party During Coronavirus

Now, none of these suggestions are a permanent substitute for good old fashioned door knocking, in-person events, and face-to-face connection.
These are, however, great ways to keep your members informed, connected, and involved in the near-term. In a time when challenges are many and clear solutions are few and far between, “being there” for your membership doesn’t have to mean being there in person!

Want More?

NDTC offers free virtual live trainings. Check out NDTC’s calendar of events and register for a training today!

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Atima Omara

Atima Omara is a nationally recognized, award-winning political strategist, leader, advocate, and speaker who has focused her 16-year career on engaging youth, women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people at the intersection of politics and advocacy in the progressive movement. As President of Omara Strategy Group, LLC, Atima provides training, coaching, and strategic political services to political candidates and organizations that center women, people of color, and LGBTQ people in their advocacy and campaigns.

For over a decade, she’s worked as campaign manager, field director, finance staff, and other staff on more than nine federal, state, and local political campaigns in many red and battleground states across the country. She has also successfully led organizing efforts for voter registration, ballot initiatives, and GOTV operations in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities. She has a BA from the University of Virginia and an MPA from George Mason University.