The graph below highlights how voters used the internet and social media in the 2008 elections. This is a tremendous indicator of the power of social media in elections, especially considering that since 2008 Twitter users in the US have increased seven-fold, Facebook users have tripled and almost 60 million more Americans are consuming online video. That being said, while most campaigns recognize the importance of social media, few campaigns successfully utilize social media in their election. Below are 8 practical tips to help your campaign start utilizing social media to reach voters this election.
1) TELL YOUR STORY
Social media is about telling stories and your content should reflect that. Content coming from campaigns should tell your candidate’s story, the story of your community and the story of how your campaign is fighting to make your community better each day.
2) BE AUTHENTIC
Story telling builds deeper relationships with supporters and creates a narrative for your campaign but it doesn’t resonate unless you are authentic. People want to connect with other “real” people. Imagine the response someone would get in a coffee shop if they just shouted out headlines like a robot. Don’t be the online equivalent. Use your real voice and be yourself. You’ll find that people will pay attention to what you have to say.
3) ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
Like your campaign, social media users are telling their stories online. They realize that every update and link they share says something about their life, their interest, what they value, etc. In order for your audience to share your content and take other actions online you need to produce content that helps them tell THEIR story. Content that helps users express their values, build their reputation or demonstrate their participation in a movement will be shared.
4) MAKE YOUR CONTENT SHAREABLE
On that note, if you want your content to be shared you need to make it shareable. Tweet’s can be re-Tweeted, Facebook posts shared and YouTube videos embedded on other sites but that doesn’t cover every base. Make sure all of the content on your website, blog and emails are shareable as well. You can do this in a couple of minutes by adding a “share this” button to your website and email template.
5) SHARE GREAT CONTENT
Sharing great content from other people serves several purposes – it helps you tell your story, it adds value to your page and it gets the attention of the author which helps you to continue building relationships.
6) KNOW YOUR NETWORKS
The social norms and audience on Facebook, Twitter and your website are not the same. Knowing who you’re talking to, how much to talk and how often to talk are key to effective communication online. Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it ideal for quick updates, it’s also great for linking out to articles on your website and you can make frequent updates throughout the day. Facebook is perfect for going a bit more in depth, sharing photos with your posts and being a little more personal. Your website or blog is the best place for more lengthy content.
7) CONNECT YOUR NETWORKS
All of your online activity should be connected. Think of your campaign website as your online headquarters with your social networks serving as outposts that direct people back to your website where they can be converted to volunteers or donors, find an event, sign-up for your email list, register to vote, etc. Be sure that all of your social networks have a bio, a headshot and a link back to the campaign website.
8) MEASURE RESULTS
Simply tracking Twitter followers and Facebook likes doesn’t tell you much about how successful your online outreach really is. The real measurement of success online is engagement and conversions from calls to action (i.e. people re-broadcasting your content, signing up to volunteer, donating, etc). An easy way to track this data is by adding Google Analytics to your website, using HootSuite for your social network content posting and Constant Contact for your email blasts. All of these services are easy to use and have built in analytics.