In past blogs, I have talked about social media both in general and for specific groups. A while ago I decided to look into social media as a political tool – because it was something I haven’t really paid attention too and I was interested in learning more. I read a bunch of fascinating articles and decided to share some of the information I found.

Growing up I wasn’t involved in politics, but ever since I was able to vote I have noticed the little engagement of people in politics, and voting turnout has been less and less. Social media to the rescue – providing a new form of communication among politicians and citizens has provided a way to increasing citizen involvement in politics (especially during election campaigns). Social media allow political actors, especially smaller parties or less-known candidates, to bypass mass media filters.

To start off, I guess the real question is…

How does online campaigning enhance election results?

From what I have learned, and seen in practice, the basics of using social media in political campaigns is not much different than using social media for individuals or businesses. In the end, you are posting content to engage a defined audience, and get them to embrace an idea, product or service.

Does social media marketing replace traditional political campaign tactics?

Your social media campaign is important – but does NOT replace traditional campaign marketing. As previously mentioned this mirrors the way that social media is used for businesses, it is a valuable tool, but it cannot completely replace the traditional methods that still thrive. Politicians should be using social media campaigns to enhance their offline campaigns, not replace them. It is important to remember that getting your message out through flyers, door hangers, yard signs and position papers. The difference with social media is that your message and your position on the issues are the basis of your social media campaign. Use social media to strengthen your offline campaign, re-iterate your platform and expand your overall reach. A candidate with an effective online campaign clearly will have an advantage over one who does not.

Are politicians good at social media campaigns?

Political campaign candidates have exceptional qualities that make them a natural success at social media and networking. They’re individuals who are highly dedicated and have a strong sense of place and purpose. Politicians are great at connecting – sharing information and helping others. When strong opinions and multiple voices are involved, political candidates are good at cutting through the clutter and deflecting negative feedback.

Should you pay for online political marketing?

It would be easy to pay to market your political campaign online, but the best way to approach social media marketing is not with paid advertisements. Instead, you should be using your supporters (followers) to spread your messages for you. Paid advertising on social media is still overlooked, and we all know that there is nothing better than a REAL endorsement. Your supporters have a far greater reach than you know – tap into it and save your money for the traditional methods.

What is the goal of an effective online social media campaign?

•  Spread awareness of your campaign
•  Make it easy for supporters to follow your campaign and messages
•  Interact with supporters and opponents
•  Coordinate events
•  Raise money
•  Encourage supported to get out and vote
•  Reach a larger audience

So, in the end, I think that social media can be a very powerful tool for political campaigns – so if you are weighing the option, my advice would be to go for it. Like I have said in other blogs the most important thing is to do your research and make sure you know what you are doing. Of course, if you need some help or have any specific questions be sure to let me know (or leave a comment).