6 digital tips for political candidates
Political campaigns are brand platforms. Candidates are themselves brands, representing the party they are standing for and the policies offered.
To be a success, political campaigns must be organised, with every digital update part of a unified, and joined-up message.
Voters want to know whom they are voting for and what they will deliver. Transparent and authentic, an effective digital campaign will enable voters to connect with you and your principles, and can complement your other campaign forms- telephone canvassing, leaflets and door to door canvassing.
Digital campaigns must be agile and adaptable, quick off the mark to respond to changes in political circumstances and breaking news items. They must be positive and transparent, create buzz, and engage supporters and voters alike to put the cross in the box on Election Day.
If you are running for election or thinking of applying to be a political candidate, these are the 6 digital essentials you must have in place.
Website: this should be the bible on you and why you are running. What would you want to know about a candidate if you were searching online?
Include a bio, policy positions, information on your links to the constituency/local area and your work in the community. Make sure your website has lots of photos of you out and about — meeting local groups, getting stuck into community projects, visiting local businesses and engaging with residents.
And don’t forget the contact form and social media widgets so potential voters can easily get in touch.
This is a good example of a website that includes all the essentials.
Social platforms: if you are not active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram then immediately create your accounts.
Know your audience on each, the content they will consume and how you will target them. Facebook is key for community building, and an ideal platform for sharing videos, photos and creating real engagement with potential voters.
Twitter is good for pumping out micro-updates — think links to interesting articles, press mentions and photos with snappy captions.
And Instagram is the perfect place for creative, behind-the-scenes snaps and Boomerangs. Use it to show your personality — feature your favourite places in the constituency and fun updates on the campaign trail!
Videos: this is the key content type that can transform your political campaign. 54% of people want more video — it’s the top consumed content on social media, and it is an effective way to reach younger voters.
Create an introductory video, presenting yourself to voters and setting out your pledges and policy position. Visit every ward in your constituency and reinforce how your pledges will transform the lives of those living there. Weekly updates and Q&As are also an effective way to show what you have been up too — and don’t forget to have some fun!
Photos: a strong digitally visual identity can be achieved by engaging photos. Perfect the art of the campaign photo — selfies and group photos are good, but make sure they are in focus and aren’t the usual ‘standing in a line with a sign’ pose. Experiment with behind the scenes canvassing images — try taking pictures of your leaflets by street signs, showing something that you’ll help to improve whilst out speaking with voters — or everyone’s favourite- the canvassing cat!
Posting strategy and schedule: commit to updating your profiles on a daily basis, increasing the frequency as your campaign gets fully underway. Draw up a list of your core policy issues and pledges, and plot your content around them. Doing this ahead of time can save stress and will provide a focus on what to photo or video whilst out on the trail.
Think about the best times to post and reach your audience. Some content can be scheduled in ready whilst others, like impromptu videos can be effectively used to respond to a breaking story or issue.
Remember to tag local business, community groups and other supporters in your posts to encourage them to share.
Investigate how ads can be used to maximise your reach, targeting specific demographics on the issues that speak direct to their interests or concerns.
And above all, ensure consistency across everything that you post and on every platform.
Microinfluencers: work with your community influencers and supporters to create a network of microinfluencers who will positively help to spread the word about you online. Encourage them to create and share content in relevant Facebook groups, referencing your campaign pledges and commitment to the area. Testimonial videos for example are a great way to demonstrate your support, and can be related to issues you have helped to solve or why the particular individual will be voting for you.
The trust of influencers carries weight, and at a time when trust in politicians is at an all-time low, it is vital for candidates fighting both local and national campaigns.
Be consistent, create buzz, work with others and engage with your voters. Follow these basics for a successful and digitally effective political campaign.