It’s hard being a candidate. You’re under intense scrutiny. You’re asking family, friends, and complete strangers for money all the time and yet you never have enough of it. You’re bombarded with unsolicited advice like this about how YOU should run YOUR campaign.
Add in the increased importance of digital marketing and strategy and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. This advice comes from working with candidates at every level and in different countries.
Not Everything That Can Be Measured Online is Worth Knowing
The metrics you see on Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, Instagram and YouTube aren’t for you. Candidates and their campaigns need to be worried about four things: winning votes, raising money, getting attention, and upsetting your opponent. This does not include likes, shares, retweets, page views, or views – these are merely means to an end.
As a candidate, you need to focus on macro metrics, like how much money your emails raise, and not micro metrics, like the open and click through rates. Definitely don’t worry about vanity metrics like “deliverability” or “best time of day to send email” that email platforms provide and are essentially shiny objects to distract you from what actually matters
Digital is More than Just Social Media
Social media is an important part of reaching voters and, when connected to a robust conversion funnel, is a critical component of your overall digital strategy, but it doesn’t stop at Facebook and Twitter.
In politics, “digital” has become a nebulous, catch-all term that actually does campaigns a disservice. Major components of a campaign, including advertising, fundraising, messaging, volunteer recruitment, and technology all get lumped under the umbrella of “digital.” It’s rare you’ll find a single digital staffer with all of these skills and not every “full-service” digital agency is equipped to handle these issues
But Social Media is the Only Thing That Can’t Happen Without You
Most voters get their news via social media. So if you personally write/edit/review every press release, why aren’t you personally doing all of your own social media? If social media doesn’t have your personal voice, it becomes sociopath media.
You need to have at least one social channel that is in your own voice. Otherwise your team won’t have the words they need for other channels, email, content, etc.
The Bigger Your Email List, the More You’ll Raise Online
Simple as that.
Your Engagement is Critical
You understand the importance of campaigning online, but you can’t afford to disengage from it personally. Campaign teams address the priorities set by the candidate. If you prioritize yard signs, you will have the best yard sign distribution operation, but you’ll have a pretty terrible campaign.
The quickest shortcut to effective online campaigning is prioritizing online fundraising. So many other critical components fall into place when it becomes your emphasis.
There Are No Shortcuts
Sending to random email lists is ineffective. You get what you pay for in a free website. And buying fans on social media is a waste of money. The only way to build an effective online campaign is by building a strong foundation with a robust infrastructure. Including a website that meets your needs – note that I didn’t say expensive – and an outreach strategy that prioritizes owned audiences like email and text messaging over borrowed audiences like Facebook and Twitter.
Nobody is expecting you to be a digital campaign expert, but we do want you to listen to people who know what they’re talking about and set the right priorities for your own campaign.
Following these six pieces of advice will pay more dividends than any “digital guru” or “full-service” agency ever can.