August 21, 2018

By Cheryl Williams

Social media is online networking.

Regardless of the medium, we head to the internet to make the connections we need.

When we use social media for a political campaign, the goal is to reach, connect, and engage with as many potential supporters as possible.

When you run for office your goal is always to make personal connections with your voters and supporters. Ideally, you would meet and speak with everyone in your constituency. But, in today’s world the ability to do that is unlikely.

Social media helps create a bridge. That said, consider these key points as you use social media to promote your campaign.

Post Content Regularly

It is essential to stay active on social media to sustain a strong social media presence. You can’t post a couple of photos on Facebook and then be done with it. Plan to post regularly so your followers stay engaged.

Look for and post articles that:

  • Feature you
  • Point out any policies you want to highlight for your campaign
  • Highlight your community and relevant news

Create a schedule to provide organization and make it easy for you to follow a plan. Check out this article for recommendations on Facebook best practices to help you start with a solid game plan!

Finding your Audience

Your audience is vital when it comes to maintaining a strong social media presence. If you are spending time on social media, you want it to be as wide reaching as possible. You can’t do this without first building an audience.

The first step is to learn what social media networks your audience uses.

If you want to reach a broad audience, Facebook is the way to go. With nearly 70% of all American adults on Facebook, your campaign cannot afford to miss out on the audience that Facebook allows you to reach.

But, your own data will help you better understand your audience. Ask your volunteers, your family, and your friends what social media they use. Ask them what they use it for and what catches their attention. The people around you represent your community and the trends they follow might work best for your campaign.

Use Emojis

Did you know there is a world emoji day? Clearly they are popular in the world of social media! They are a quick and easy way to express how you feel, which helps to establish a connection with others.

Sure, emojis are cute.  But should you use them in your social media for a political campaign?


Emojis are proven to increase interest in the content you share. Studies show that on Twitter, the use of emojis results in 26 percent more engagement. On Facebook those emojis result in 57 percent more likes and 33 percent more shares.

Make sure the message you send is the one you hope to send. Also be sure your emojis are not a substitute for your content, but reinforce what you want to say. In other words, use emojis, but in moderation.

Hashtags are Handy

Your posts want to be attention-grabbing  and fun! Hashtags increase your post visibility so it can reach hundreds or thousands of people.

A hashtag is the “#” symbol followed by a phrase, which turns the phrase into a searchable link online.  When anyone searches for that topic or a similar one, the hashtag can draw them to your post .

A trending hashtag is a hashtag that has been established and is already popular. Twitter updates trending hashtags on its homepage, so you can check them out and see if one might be relevant to your campaign.

But don’t slap on a hashtag on your post just because it is popular!

Successful hashtags connect people to your message.

Choose hashtags that are:

  • Relevant to your campaign
  • Not too long
  • And send the message you intend to send

Use hashtags wisely, and it can bring a lot of attention to your campaign’s social media.

Photos are Forever

Everybody knows photos draw people in. They paint the picture of where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with. Make sure that the photos you include in your social media are ones that cast you in a positive light, both literally and figuratively!

Use a professional photographer for your profile and bio photos. The photo you choose for your profile is important-it’s the first thing followers see! So choose one that really captures you.

Take and post photos of yourself on the campaign trail and with supporters. Those photos tell the story of your campaign.

Photos are well worth the effort. According to Adweek, if your Twitter post has an image, it is 150 percent more likely to be re-posted.

Want more tips for taking a photo for your campaign? Check out this post!

Follow Other Users

Following other accounts is important to grow your social media presence. Former President Barack Obama follows over 650k accounts on Twitter! Find the people whose message you are drawn to, and check out the prompts of other people to follow. Choosing one person will lead to many other suggestions

Therefore, make a point to follow:

  • Your constituents to see what they care about and what issues they’re facing in your district, county or state
  • Local businesses and news outlets to keep an eye out on what’s going on in your community and especially what press coverage your campaign is getting.
  • People you meet on the campaign trail and interact with events.

Reply and Retweet Popular Tweets

It is common practice to reply to tweets and retweet popular content. Both replying and retweeting leads to more followers as it exposes you to a larger audience.

Look for tweets that focus on issues you really care about and then retweet them. It is a useful way to help people get to know your stance on policies, as well as whose opinions you admire (or don’t).

But don’t just rely on retweets! Use the platform to share your thoughts on issues, as well as replying to people who have shared their thoughts. It is a great opportunity to engage.

Use Facebook Live

Facebook Live came into play for everyone by April 2016, and now it is an enormous platform for users. In fact, nearly 2 billion people have watched live streaming videos on Facebook.

With Facebook Live, you can Live stream an event for your campaign

  • Use it to host a Q&A session on Facebook
  • Draw immediate attention to an encounter or event

Live streams make your social media campaign more interactive and allow you to speak to your constituents and followers in real time. Participants can post questions and react to your stream.

This might be as close as you get to one on one conversations with some of your voters. Facebook Live gives you the opportunity to answer any questions people have about your campaign and your proposed policies. Voters like to have candidates that are more interactive and responsive to their questions!

State Your Purpose

What do you want people to know about you? Tell them with your bio!  Write a professional bio  for all the social media platforms you use for your campaign.

Craft your bio to the specific mediums you use. Longer ones may have a little room for wit, where others are straight to the message of your campaign. Tailor your bios to the vibe of the network you’re using.

Your Twitter bio should state what you’re running for, what your occupation is, what you’re passionate about and something personal, for example:

Kamala Harris: U.S. Senator for California. Former CA Attorney General. Fighting for justice and giving voice to the voiceless. Wife, Momala, Sister, Auntie. Aspiring chef.

Nancy Pelosi: Democratic Leader, focused on strengthening America’s middle class and creating jobs; mother, grandmother, dark chocolate connoisseur

Ted Lieu: Husband of Betty, the love of my life. Father of two great kids. USAF veteran. Member of Congress. In that order. Also, I don’t take orders from Vladimir Putin.

On the other hand, your Facebook bio can be longer. Take the opportunity to state who you are, a short blurb about your background and why you’re running for office.

Then, make sure you link your campaign website, social media platforms, and add your location!

Get Your Message Out There

One on one personal conversations and interactions are the best ways to get your message to your electorate. Social media is a great platform to supplement and extend your reach.

People need a quick and easy way to learn more about your views and positions. That’s where your website, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms can help you grab attention and get people excited about your campaign!

Want more tips and best practices for your campaign digital strategy?

Click HERE to take our Digital 101 course!

Former actor, sometimes teacher, and brand new activist, Cheryl is an intern with NDTC. She has lived in every US time zone, illustrated a children's book, and is raising a strong-willed, political activist of a teenager with her incredible husband and two rowdy cats.