Setting Up Social Media For Political Campaigns
May 25, 2021
In 2020, more than 231 million Americans, or over 70% of the US population, had a social media account. On a daily basis, the average American user reportedly spends 2 hours and 3 minutes on social platforms. As a result, social media is a powerful asset to add to your political campaign toolkit. It’s an effective way to reach a broader audience and ensure your campaign’s message is heard. It also allows your campaign to engage with voters in a fun and interactive way.
However, just because you set up an Instagram account doesn’t mean it will instantly gain thousands of followers. While social media is fun, there’s also a science and an art behind it. If you followed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on any platform, you’re aware she surged in popularity because of her social media posts. Driving engagement requires a detailed strategy to make sure your content is worth your followers’ time.
Here’s how to set up and manage your social media accounts for your political campaign:
Getting Started on Each Social Media Platform
Currently, in social media strategy, it’s important to have a presence on the big three platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Those three sites enable the spread of your message in different ways.
Facebook is the leading social media network, with 2.7 billion active users every month. That’s nearly twice as many users as the next platform, Instagram. Numbers don’t lie. When working to expand your campaign’s presence, having a Facebook page is essential.
On Facebook, you can share information from the campaign through text posts, images, videos, article links, and more. You can also join different Facebook communities and groups to meet more people who share your interests.
“Facebook is the most essential platform for your social media strategy, since it reaches the broadest audience.” — Patricia Colón, Social Media Lead Strategist at Mothership Strategies
Start by creating a Facebook page for your campaign. Using a page is an incredibly effective way to reach supporters, potential voters, and the wider community. It also allows a campaign to spread its message to a wider audience through targeted ads.
Creating a Facebook page for your campaign is simple, but you need a personal account beforehand to make the page. Learn how to set up a personal account and a campaign page here.
Once you’ve created your campaign page, personalize it! Make sure to add all important details to your profile. This includes the office you’re running for, political party, and where you’re from. By quickly searching your page, everyone should be able to find this basic information.
Next, write a memorable bio. In the bio, mention a few key issues, why you’re running, and how you’re qualified.
Finally, add a high-res profile picture and a high-quality cover photo. Campaign platforms that are professional, visually appealing, and informative are seen as more trustworthy and memorable.
If you’re a political junkie, you likely have a Twitter account. Almost every media professional and politician uses it daily. Twitter is a great way to connect with journalists, other political organizations, staffers, and volunteers. Be sure to follow the accounts that are most important to your campaign, along with those who might have influence on your campaign. Use Twitter to share bite-sized information and minute-to-minute updates with followers, which will keep this platform current and informative.
Take NDTC’s advice when navigating Twitter, “Think of Twitter as a flock of seagulls. You’re never going to feed them too much.” Stay as active as possible when first creating an account. Stay up to date with current news and make sure to comment on events or issues that matter to your community and voter base.
Instagram boasted roughly 112 million monthly active users in 2020. By 2023, the app is expected to expand to 120.3 million users.
Instagram users tend to skew younger. As of April 2021, 31.5% of users were between 25-34 years old. In recent years, more millennials and Gen Z’ers have turned to Instagram to spread news about current events and political injustices. For example, in the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests gained traction on Instagram as people posted thousands of images.
Use Instagram to tell your campaign’s story visually. By sharing relatable or aspirational images, supporters will connect with your campaign, and feel a sense of belonging.
Learn more about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as their benefits and drawbacks, by taking NDTC’s course: “Using Social Media Platforms.”
Managing Political Campaign Social Media Accounts
It’s essential to maintain consistent messaging when creating strong content. Consider the following questions when planning social media content:
- Who are you?
- What issues do you care about?
- What are your solutions to these issues?
Below are some more tips for growing your social media profile:
Keep Your Nose in the News
Staying current is vital to proper social media management. Always stay updated with what’s happening in your community and around the country.
In times of conflict, people look to leaders for guidance. If you want to be a strong leader, always be prepared to speak on issues you and your constituents find important.
Celebrate and Uplift Important Days
A campaign’s social media should strive to make people feel seen and heard. A great way to accomplish this is by celebrating your community as much as possible.
For instance, May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Highlighting AAPI leaders in your community creates an inclusive, welcoming environment for followers. It also shows how much you care about reflecting the values you hold.
In order to keep track of important events, create a social media content calendar. Write down awareness days, notable birthdays, and holidays so your social team can prepare content in advance.
Learn more about the digital content calendar in NDTC’s blog post: “Four Strategies to Build Your Digital Content Calendar.”
Get Down With Data
Certain posts may perform better than others throughout a campaign. Using data to track and analyze posts can help establish patterns. Consider using social media analytics tools like Sprout Social, Hubspot, or Google Analytics to see how posts are performing.
Making data-driven decisions will help transform your campaign and generate actual results.
Prioritize Social Media For Your Political Campaign
It’s important to have, at least, one person dedicated to managing your social media. Managing accounts on multiple platforms is not easy. A campaign will need a staffer to produce content constantly, engage with followers, and ensure your digital messaging is on track.
If your budget allows, make social media the primary responsibility of one member of your Communications or Digital Team.
Engaging With Social Media Trolls
When running for office, recognize you’ll be under a microscope throughout the campaign. People will pay attention and scrutinize everything you say.
Using social media means a lot more people examine your words and actions. There will be people who agree with your stances, but others will seek to denigrate. Figuring out how to engage with trolls is crucial to using social media effectively for your political campaign.
“At the end of the day, it’s about you, your team, your constituents, and your community. Because if you feel you’re worthy enough to run for office and you feel like you can make a change in your community, you can handle a typical troll or two.” — Patricia Colón, Social Media Lead Strategist at Mothership Strategies
For more information, check out former elected official Sammi Brown’s guide to dealing with online trolls and disinformation: “The Political Candidate’s Guide to Online Trolls and Disinformation.”
Get Started With Social Media Today!
At its core, social media is a powerful, exciting way for your political campaign to connect with voters. NDTC’s course, “Using Social Media Platforms,” will provide everything you need to know about using social media for political campaigning. You’ll find out the different strengths of social media sites, as well as how to create effective content for each platform.
Related Links: Four Strategies to Build Your Digital Content Calendar, The Political Candidate’s Guide to Online Trolls and Disinformation, Digital Strategy For Your Campaign
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