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Topics: Social Media, Strategy, Expert Advice, Facebook, Twitter, Research, Branding

Tips for Winning Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Are you an elected official, running for office, working on a political campaign, or thinking about running?

Do you have questions about social media marketing in politics?

If so, then you are in the right place!

Social Media Platforms for Your Campaign

Just like money, time is a limited campaign resource. It's a limitation for voters, volunteers, donors, and most importantly you!

It's crucial to invest your time wisely and prioritize accomplishment over activity for your campaign's social media game.

What Social Platforms Should I be on?

Social media platforms are coming and going all the time – it wasn't all that long ago that Facebook and Twitter were shiny and new, replacing MySpace.

Now we see platforms popping up left and right, including Parler, MeWe, Gab, CloutHub, and on and on.

For political campaigns, social media strategy is a vital element of campaign strategy.

We have to communicate with voters where they get news and media. And every day, Americans spend 2 hours and 7 minutes on social media.

In politics, being absent on social media amounts to missing out on huge campaign opportunities - daily.

You should build a social media marketing presence, but it is critical to take a strategic approach that is achievable and beneficial.

Expert Advice from Eric Wilson of Best Practice Digital

To provide you with the best insights on social media marketing, I asked Eric Wilson of Best Practice Digital to share some expert advice. Eric, a leading Republican political technologist, discussed social media marketing trends and how to develop a winning social media program.

Forgoing social media is like passing on a local news hit, but doing it every day. - Eric Wilson (@ericwilson)

CLICK TO TWEET


I've heard Eric puts the importance of social media nicely into perspective by comparing it to the local news. Eric says you wouldn't pass up an opportunity to be on the local news, but forgoing social media is like passing on a local news hit, but doing it every day.

Below are the questions Eric and I discussed along with his insights on social media marketing.

Social Media Marketing with Eric Wilson

What advice do you have for campaigns using social media for the first time?

The recipe is right in the name, with a key addition: It's Social + Media + MARKETING.

Be social – share your personality. Be sure that you're providing users something of value in exchange for their time. Use social media to help achieve your goals – when it's signing up volunteers, getting your message, building coalitions, or fundraising.

Don't waste your time where on platforms where you're not getting any traction. The objective should NOT be to have a presence on every social media platform. The objective should be to do social RIGHT on the platforms that make sense for you based on audience sizes and core demographics.

How should the ability to post messages and run ads influence the platforms campaigns are on?

The rule should always be to follow voters. While the future of Facebook ads for political campaigns is in question, the reality today is 60 percent of voters log into Facebook daily. That's a bigger audience than those watching their local news.

If we can't reach people any longer using methods we've relied on in recent years, we need to work harder and be more creative to generate content that inspires engagement and helps grow active supporter audiences. Content needs to be worth sharing and worth consuming and needs to fit the "culture" of each specific platform.

When you think about smaller campaigns with limited budgets, are there other things to consider?

With smaller campaigns, there is often an opportunity to engage in more meaningful two-way conversations, leverage the social aspect of social media.

The key is to go where YOUR voters are and focus your efforts there – even if that means you don't have a presence on every single platform.

The key is still creating content that is compelling and "right" for each particular platform.

Eric Wilson of Best Practice Digital Eric Wilson
Best Practice Digital
Eric: Twitter |  LinkedIn
Best Practice Digital: Twitter |  Facebook |  LinkedIn


It was generous of Eric to share his time and expertise with us. Thank you Eric!

So, do you need to be on social media?

Yes! And, if you don't know them already, you should understand the pros and cons of social media marketing.

Assume anything you post on social media will be available forever. There are new stories about people who have lost their job or missed opportunities every day because of what they said on social media.

If you have existing social media, it is best to review all your posts and remove anything controversial.

As times changes, some things don't age well. And, even the best of us have lapses in judgment. It is better to find your own mistakes and prepare for any situation that may arise.

Social Media Pros and Cons for Campaigns

The Pros

  • It's "free" - but requires time and attention
  • You can engage with large audiences
  • You can cut through the new media filter
  • There are endless opportunities to demonstrate authenticity
  • It's relatively easy for "digital native" candidates to create connections

The Cons

  • It takes time and resources to produce content
  • Having online audiences opens you up to broader scrutiny
  • It can be challenging to juggle all of the platforms
  • It can become a distraction
  • For some candidates, it can be challenging to navigate

 

Do Social Right

As Eric mentions in our discussion, your objective should be to do social right on the platforms that make sense for you based on audience sizes and core demographics.

Sprout Social shares research about audience demographics on several popular social platforms. This research can help us understand where best to reach audiences and how to communicate and create content.

The Center for Campaign Innovations, a non-profit research and training center guiding conservatives through the digital transformation of politics, recently released the 2020 Post-Election National Campaign Technology Survey.

The Center's research found that among voters 18-34, nine platforms have daily usage in the double digits. These results demonstrate just how much opportunity exists to reach voters via social media marketing.

Understand this: Passing on social media is choosing to ignore where Americans go daily to consume news and information actively.

The bottom line is there's no "off-season" when it comes to a candidate or elected official's social media program.

The ability to consistently deliver content worth sharing and worth consuming is the key to your long-term success.

Quick Social Media Marketing Tips for Campaigns

Quick Tip #1 Understand social platforms before trying to market to them.

A network like NextDoor is excellent for listening and engaging in conversations with appropriate content but is not a place to overtly "campaign." The potential for blowback is high. The same goes for making edits to Wikipedia entries, so steer clear!

Quick Tip #2 The Top 3 social platforms where campaigns can reach voters are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

YouTube belongs here as well, but many campaigns direct the social conversation elsewhere.

There ARE opportunities on newer platforms, such as TikTok. Still, they require more time and hands-on "management" by your candidate or campaign staff to produce platform-appropriate and compelling content.

Quick Tip #3 Don't feed online trolls!

Don't get caught up in back-and-forth exchanges with the online trolls who come after you (or your boss). Sometimes it IS appropriate to reply, especially to a dishonest or personal attack. But as a general rule, you should not respond more than twice.

Bonus: To learn more, branding expert Jay Baer has written the manual for dealing with online trolls.

 

Which social media platforms are right for YOUR campaign?

The answer is it depends. It depends on who you are trying to reach, the size and scale of your campaign and staff, where you can run paid advertising, and whether you have a digital partner to help you create engaging content.

It's important to consider ALL of these things when setting your strategy.

Remember, time is a limited resource. Invest yours wisely when it comes to social media!

If you have additional questions on launching a winning social media marketing program, our experts at The Prosper Group have the answers you need.

Did you find this post useful?

If so, let us know what you think. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


The Prosper Group is an internationally-recognized, award-winning digital marketing agency headquartered in Indianapolis. The firm specializes in online media, strategy, and fundraising for Republican political candidates, advocacy organizations, associations, and non-profits. The Prosper Group's best-in-industry work has been recognized for awards dozens of times by prestigious organizations such as the American Association of Political Consultants and Campaigns & Elections.

The firm has worked in tandem with Trump for President 2016, Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Ted Cruz, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congressman John Katko, the National Association of Manufacturers, Fox News, and many other candidates and organizations.

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