The Importance of Social Media in Campaigns

If it feels like it’s been a whole since you’ve heard from me, you’re right. I’ve been busy on the campaign trail once again. What started as a consultant job for social media has morphed into something much bigger and crazier that I never expected, but that I have embraced just the same.

Of course before I hopped on this new campaign, I did some research over which campaigns were killing it on the different platforms and which had left valuable lessons for the rest of us. I was fortunate enough to be part of the Obama campaign in 2012, seeing first hand how helpful social media could be in engaging and connecting with potential voters. And yet even since 2012, the game has still developed even further, leaving many wondering where to go and what to do in a time when Facebook is now for “older” folks, Twitter is the new king pin of spreading information, Instagram is the place to be for anyone with a camera phone and Snapchat rules the playground for the kids.

Some things that I have ran into on a campaign:

  • Does your candidate have their own personal social accounts already? If so on Facebook, make sure they’re private, even if they have nothing to hide. No point in leaving your candidate open to crazies who may attack their family, friends, etc. Have your candidate change all passwords to personal social media and email accounts. Make sure they’re all different. Recently, I dealt with the hacking of both my candidate’s Facebook and personal email. It’s not fun and you should avoid it.
  • Make it clear that the Twitter account is either one the candidate posts on in first person or it’s their campaign doing it. Personally, my candidate’s Twitter is hers, but whenever I need to post something about volunteering or donating, I write it in third person and sign it “- Team (whatever your candidates name is).”
  • Be careful to note in your Twitter bio that retweets or favorites are not endorsements. This goes for not just your candidate but for everyone on the campaign that’s paid staff. The Obama campaign made sure no one on staff was saying things that were out of line with our campaign message so as to never lose our cohesiveness. And really, just be careful what you post about. My tweeting has diminished since being back on the campaign trail, for fear that anything I say can be used against my candidate. You should always watch what you say on social media regardless but especially so when you’re working for a candidate.
  • Monitor your private messages on both Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes reporters or groups will try contacting your candidate through that medium instead of using email, especially if there is a lack of ways on your campaign website to allow others to contact you (which also means you should leave contact information on your website).
  • After delving into data for my own campaign, I was sort of shocked at the discrepancy between young voters and older voters and who actually comes out to the polls (hint: older people own the voting booths). Make sure you’re catering your message in a way that anyone, regardless of age group, can relate though.
  • Keep your content fresh. Is your candidate speaking at a forum or attending a community event? Post about it as it happens! Are they not tech savvy enough to post something like that? You should be with them to ensure they’re not wasting time asking people to take or pose for pictures; you should be the one snapping the candids and uploading them for the world to see. Of course, you need to make sure you ask for permission before doing so because, especially in local politics, loyalties are extremely divided and people don’t want to appear as if they endorse a candidate publicly, even if they might privately. (Ugh politics is such a tangled web.)

Have any other suggestions? Shoot me a tweet @irmafernandez to continue the conversation (and to follow what I’m up to with the campaign). My primary is on March 4th so wish me luck, Found Family!!!

P.S. Check out campaignsick.tumblr.com to get a little window into the world of campaigning and all that we as staff deal with.

Irma Fernandez
@irmafernandez
Former Marketing Director at Found Media Group

Posted on February 25, 2014 in Irma

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