Social media platforms rely on engagement – how many users are reacting to, commenting on, or sharing a post – as the most important signal for what content should be promoted to other users. Unlocking this “network effect” is how your campaign can reach more voters via social media.
We’re all too familiar, however, with the ways political conversations online often devolve into unhelpful shouting matches. So what should a campaign do to increase social media engagement while mitigating the negative side effects?
Here are four strategies for fostering civilized engagement on your campaign’s social media platforms.
Social Media, Not Sociopath Media
Campaigns tend to focus more on the “media” part, forgetting that relationships are key to socializing. Unlike press releases, interviews, or direct mail, social media should be a two-way conversation with your supporters.
The response to your social media posts is as important as what you post. In real life, having a meaningful conversation involves listening at least as much as you speak. To show that you’re actively listening, like and reply to comments that are constructive. This will encourage more supporters to do the same.
You’re eager for supporters to interact with your campaign on social media, but when is the last time you explicitly encouraged engagement by asking an open-ended question?
If you don’t invite supporters to comment on a post, any response you do get will be from people trying to hijack your platform.
Show The Way
The supporters who interact with your campaign’s social media posts are the most qualified leads you have for recruiting new volunteers and donors. Of all the thousands of social media posts they could have liked or commented on, they chose yours.
Translate this interest into meaningful action by explaining what you need them to do next. Never assume supporters know what you expect of them. As a comment to your own post, always include a call to action for what the next step should be, whether a petition or volunteer sign up form.
Articulate & Enforce Standards
You also need to clearly articulate the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated on your campaign’s Facebook page. Write a very simple moderation policy for your page and include it in your profile.
Comments made in good faith, even if they disagree with you, should be allowed and even responded to, but use of profanity, name calling, and other low-quality interaction should be hidden or deleted. Repeat offenders should be blocked from the page.
Engagement is essential to the success of your campaign’s social media strategy, but mitigating the negative aspects of political conversation online is just as important.