Cultivating voter relationships is crucial for winning elections
Social media is no longer a nice supplementary option for political candidates — it’s now an absolute necessity to form relationships with swing voters.. From local to national races, just about every political campaign today turns to social media as one of its primary ways of connecting with voters. While almost every candidate is using social media, not everyone is using it to its greatest potential. At its heart, social media is a special way to connect with an audience on a personal level. It can serve as a vital bridge between candidates and voters, keeping them informed and engaged. But what steps can political campaigns take to form such a relationship with voters?
Five years ago, a candidate could get away with posting on social media every few days. A tweet on Monday and an Instagram post on Thursday was seen as enough. In short, social media was a box to check off on a campaign manager’s to-do list rather than a central artery for campaign information and branding. Now the expectations are much higher. A candidate’s social channels are oftentimes the first place a potential voter looks when trying to learn more who a candidate is and what they stand for. They expect to see consistent posts — ideally multiple daily, across platforms — so that the candidate’s social accounts serve as a central space for policy positions, schedule information, reactions to news, and personal color.
Timing is everything
In an effort to post consistently and effectively, your campaign needs to figure out the timing that drives the most engagement. According to research by Sprout Social, there are clear times when it’s most productive to post. For instance, the best time to post on Facebook is on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when you’ll reach the most eyeballs and drive the most impressions. With an eye toward analytics, your campaign can figure out the best time to reach your target demographic and engage them with compelling content.
Make it feel like your audience is on the trail with you
While more and more campaigning happens digitally, face to face interaction is still central to so many winning campaigns. Your social accounts should of course be the first place voters look for information on the time and location of rallies, fundraisers, and meetings related to the campaign. In short, they should know exactly how they can take part. Furthermore, social media should serve as a front-row seat to these in-person events. Post videos of rallies, pictures from fundraisers, and any other content from events to make followers who can’t be there in person feel like they’re an integral part of the campaign happening on the ground.
Highlight your supporters
After a while, posts about policy and campaign scheduling can get dull for the average follower. Posting content about specific supporters is a great way to personalize social feeds and highlight some of the special people who embody the goals and promises of your candidacy. These are the people who not only carry your message — maybe by attending a rally or volunteering for the campaign — but also represent the power of this message. These posts inspire others to participate and humanize the digital arm of your campaign.
Advertise creatively and elegantly
Posting on social media is different from running advertisements on social media. Although they serve similar functions, advertising has to be handled a bit more carefully. You want to make sure you aren’t overwhelming potential voters with ads. That’s why it’s important to have an analytics-based plan to reach just the right audience at just the right frequency. Use data to create an advertising plan that is unobtrusive and informative.
With the right tools and the right approach, social media can transform a political campaign’s prospects. It begins with an investment in personal connection, creating a movement where voters feel listened to, understoof, and engaged with.