New Epolitics.com contributor Lizzie Kendrick is Director of Digital Engagement for The Campaign Workshop. Her post today draws from Campaign Workshop’s new ebook, “Ready, Set, Go! Jump-Start Your Political Campaign”.
So, youâ€™re ready to run for office and launch your campaign! Youâ€™ve thought of everything: staff, office space, volunteers, fundraising, and more. But have you given your digital campaign much thought? Here are some things to keep in mind when jump-starting your digital campaign.
Your website is the first place you should start with your digital campaign. A campaign website is absolutely crucial to your campaign. You can even harm your chances of winning if you DON’T have one. Your site will likely be the publicâ€™s first interaction with you, so put your best foot forward. Use high-quality, appealing images of yourself with your constituents and family, use an easy to read font and color scheme, and make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Beyond this, your site should include a few essential elements: a place for people to sign up for your email list and to volunteer, a place to receive donations, a place where your positions on campaign issues are spelled out (remember, many members of the media will be using your site for research), and a quick biography about you and your qualifications for this office.
Your website will provide a place for people to join your email list, and it’s important to have a strategy for how to use those supporters. First of all, make sure you have a system in place where you can manage your list and send out blast emails. NGP VAN, Blue State Digital, Nation Builder are a few options that are more geared towards political campaigns. You can also use services such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.
Email is a great, cost-effective way to utilize your supporters for fundraising and mobilization opportunities. You can use your list of email supporters to ask for donations, volunteer opportunities, GOTV efforts, and to pass on your content to their family and friends.
In addition to your website, make sure you’re connected to and have a presence on social media sites. These networks offer voters a more personal insight into you as a candidate and are a great way to gain support by providing shareable content your followers can use to spread your message. To start, many candidates will have a Facebook and Twitter account. These are pretty standard these days and provide a great way to communicate with your supporters.
If you are a larger campaign (or just incredibly digitally savvy), you may want to add in an Instagram and Snapchat account as well. These are both ways to let the public see a different, more intimate side of you as a candidate. They allow a peek into your personal life, which can be quite endearing. As with all social media, itâ€™s important to think before you post so you donâ€™t run into any unsavory moments that could end up in the press. Whichever social media sites you decide to use, make sure to have links to these on your website.
Making sure your digital campaign is connected to your overall campaign goals is one of the places many candidates and organizations fall short. The goals that guide your campaign as a whole (which voters you need to reach, which issues you are going to focus on, how much money you need to raise, which endorsements you need to secure) should extend to your digital presence.
Use these goals to guide what youâ€™re doing online. Do you need to reach a highly-targeted portion of the voting population in your district? Use paid digital ads to reach those people. Is fundraising your number one priority? Make sure that is a focal point of your website, social media accounts and all digital communication. Looking at your campaign holistically is important, and that should include your digital campaign.
Find out more about how to jump-start your political campaign in our new e-book!
Thanks Lizzie! For more on campaign essentials, check out “The Holy Trinity of 2016 Digital Campaigning Tools”. And of course, be sure to download the comprehensive digital campaigning guide, How to Use the Internet to Win in 2016.