Digital tools can help you reach, connect with, and engage voters. Having an online presence can be affordable and much of it can be do-it-yourself.
If you are running for office or already in office, your constituents are seeking information about you online. That’s true whether you’re running for local, state, or national office.
These five digital tools are must-haves for politicians, elected officials, and others in public service:
A website can be a great way to get your message out to voters. Use professional photography, have a carefully crafted message, and be sure to optimize your text and pages for search engines. Include a sign-up form for your e-mail newsletter and/or a donation button with clear calls to action on your website.
You can create your own website using a drag-and-drop platform or you can hire a professional to create your website. Be sure your website is mobile friendly and loads quickly on all devices.
If you want your content to be easy to share on social media, include images in social-media-specific sizes that can be used on each major social media platform.
There are some plugins and services that make social sharing easy for your users with social share buttons.
#2 Social Media
With so many social media platforms out there, how do you decide which ones to use?
You’ll need to review the demographics of the platform’s users as well as examine the tone and reach of each platform. Then make an informed decision as to which platforms will help you reach and engage voters.
If you are limited in time or budget, start out on social media slowly by selecting just one platform and then extend your social media presence to other platforms as you have more time or as your staff grows.
Do not set up an account on a platform if you do not have the time to keep it active and to respond to and engage with your followers.
Facebook is a useful tool for reaching certain demographics and, at the moment, it’s free to use! Setting up a Facebook Page for your campaign is a great way to deliver your message to voters and to connect and, most importantly, engage with them.
Some tips for using your Facebook Page include
- Create events for each of your meet and greets, open houses, rallies or fundraisers
- Utilize video
- Create and follow a social media posting plan
- Invite people to like your page
- Respond promptly to comments, inquiries, and messages
- Create easily shareable graphics
You will be required to have a Facebook Page to run ads for your campaign.
Facebook has created a guide for politics and government on Facebook: https://politics.fb.com/. This guide includes tutorials, tips, guides, and more. Specific tools allow you to highlight the issues that are important to you, seek endorsements, and learn about your target audience(s).
#3 Online Ads
Online advertising can be an effective tool in your campaign. Carefully target your ads to your audiences whether you are utilizing Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or other digital advertising.
In many cases, you can target your audience(s) by their interests, location, activities, and more. Have a specific goal for each of your ads and have a clear call to action (ex: learn more, sign up, donate now). Telling a story in your ads is a great way to create a connection with your audience.
If you opt to run political ads on Facebook, you will have to go through an approval process to confirm your identity. This process can take up to 10 days. Be sure to read through Facebook’s Terms of Service and Advertising Policies to make sure that you are complying with these policies and guidelines.
Online ads can be text-only ad or a single photo with text or a video. You may want to have carefully crafted landing pages that speaks directly to that specific audience with a clear call to action for each ad.
#4 Digital Fundraising Tools
There are many digital tools to fundraise for political campaigns such as email lists, SMS, social media, or crowdfunding/peer-to-peer fundraising.
Be sure the tools you utilize are mobile-friendly, easy to use, and easy to find on all of your digital accounts (social media, websites, email newsletters, etc.). Also, be sure to follow all applicable laws.
#5 E-mail Marketing
This digital tool allows you to communicate directly with those who support you and your campaign. Build your mailing list with sign-up forms on your website and social media accounts. Many e-mail marketing providers offer tools that integrate easily with social media and your website.
You can send fundraising emails, campaign updates, thank you’s, and announcements for upcoming events to your e-mail list. Have a clear, well thought out plan and clear, personalized messaging for each email you send.
Many e-mail marketing services have a free plan that you can start off with.
Integrate Digital Tools into All of Your Campaign Materials
Don’t forget to integrate digital tools with your traditional print materials, direct mail, and door-to-door campaigns.
Include the URLs of your website and social media accounts on your printed materials to get more people to interact with your digital tools.
You can even use these digital tools to track the success of certain direct mail or print campaigns by setting up specific landing pages just for those ads/campaigns.
When you talk to people or speak to a group, encourage people to visit your website or follow your social media accounts.
How To Pick the Tools For Your Campaign
When selecting which digital tools to utilize, there are many factors to consider including
- the costs and benefits of each option
- the reach of the tool
- the demographic that utilizes the tool
- your campaign budget,
- the amount of time you have to invest in the creation and management of each tool
You must actively manage each set of tools to receive the most benefit from each. Don’t set it up and forget about it!