Free Report: Social Politics – The Impact of Social Networking on Political Campaigns

Today we’re releasing our latest piece titled “Social Politics: The Impact of Social Networking on Political Campaigns.” To download the full piece, click here.

A preview:

It is now taken for granted that a strong online presence is indispensable for any “serious” political campaign. This now extends beyond a basic campaign website and includes the use of online social networking sites. Both Republicans and Democrats take social media very seriously, and professional consultants have made great sums managing candidates’ use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

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The Republican election weapon of 2014 is here: Voter Gravity in the News

Take a look at Voter Gravity in the news:

The Republican election weapon of 2014 is here

The Daily Caller: “Among Voter Gravity’s core features are the ability to organize election volunteers on the go — compiling universally accessible phone banks to let volunteers call from anywhere, creating tailored walk lists based on household voter data, and deploying those maps to mobile volunteers via the canvassing app.”

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Voter Gravity in Politico: GOP data firm adds big name

A new Republican technology firm has raised $2 million in new capital and is adding a veteran political hand to its board.

Voter Gravity, a campaign technology company building out a multiplatform voter contact tool, reported the partial close funding with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the firm’s CEO said.

Read the rest at Politico.com: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/voter-gravity-matt-schlapp-100644.html#ixzz2mWiFiAVJ

7 Creative Ways to Target Voters

Through technology like Voter Gravity, you’re given a universe of data on your potential voters. Now what?

There’s the most obvious uses for voter data, including identifying voter history and targeting people most likely to vote for your candidate, the swing voters, and those who will vote for your opponent. You must always target voters with data in at least these two ways:

  1. Use voter history data to point volunteers to the highest turnout precincts in the final GOTV push.
  2. On election day, call and knock the precise audience most likely to help you win.

But, as we often say, good voter data contains more than just whether someone has voted before or what issues are important to them. It helps your political campaign make important decisions, from identifying donors to messaging to absentee voters.

We encourage you to get creative with the myriad of ways you can slice and dice the data in order to focus your efforts most effectively. We are fully convinced that every single modern campaign, regardless of size, must run on many forms of voter targeting.

Here are some of my favorite practical but creative ways to leverage the data that you have at your disposal as a state or local political campaign:

  1. Donors: Look at common attributes of your current donors and identify patterns that could help you identify likely future donors.
  2. Volunteers: Draw volunteers early on in the campaign from your targeted supporters. Don’t just contact them with requests to vote, but requests to volunteer and become your advocate.
  3. Absentee Voters: Identify past absentee voters and reach them early with specific messages. This allows you to give them helpful information like absentee voting deadlines, while also persuading them to vote for you.
  4. Ads: Know which voters pay attention to specific media. Combine that knowledge with other data, such as how they spend their free time or money, or the age of their children. Then, tailor any radio or TV ads to those specific voters. Or, bow out of advertising on a specific channel or station if your targeted voters aren’t a likely audience.
  5. Yard Signs: Place yard signs in areas throughout your district with high visibility to targeted voters. Also, tailor the messages on those signs to appeal to the surrounding neighborhoods.
  6. Voter Turnout: If running against an incumbent, determine the areas the incumbent faired poorly among voters.
  7. Mailings: Send (very) tailored mailings to different segments in your district. With Voter Gravity’s Esri Tapestry partnership, you can identify voters who have multiple points in common. For instance, send one mailing to the people who “own dogs, use full-service banks, go hunting, fishing, horseback riding, watch rodeos, tractor pulls on TV, and own an ATV/UTV” and another mailing to the people (in your same district) who have these points in common: “Paint and draw, have a second mortgage, listen to classical music on the radio, read baby magazines, and own motorcycles.”

9 Ways to Track Your Social Media Success

At Voter Gravity we’re interested in the data, analytics, and science that goes into empowering a political campaign. But we’ve been there. Running a campaign takes time. And now you have a digital campaign to keep up with. Trying to keep track of who’s following you, which posts have the most influence, what times are best to post, etc. can be overwhelming. Thankfully, many have come before you and devised simpler methods and tools for tracking the success of your social media campaigns. 

Here are some awesome sites that we think will be useful in saving you time as you track your social media success and allow your digital campaign to play an important role in data-driven voter contact. Always allow the data to inform your digital strategies. Note: As a political candidate, always keep in mind that most tools used for managing company accounts will also work in managing your personal accounts.


  • Social Eye allows you to manage, schedule, approve, publish and moderate your social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else you may be posting on a regular basis. Social Eye allows you to perform a few neat tricks to optimize posting. For example, you can set specific times for when you want to post, allowing you to send out content when people are actually online rather than when your team is in the office.
  • Wildfire is actually an app powered by Google Analytics. This handy tool allows you to measure social ROI; everything from revenue on ads to donations can be measured by this little guy. This is an example of an analytics tool that is sold to businesses but will work well for campaigns as well.


  • Booshaka is technically a marketing platform, but this still falls into your aim to market yourself for a position of leadership. Booshaka provides features that help you understand your social media community engagement in order to develop social marketing strategies, and engage with your community in order to increase your awareness of your fan/followers base. 
  • Quintly is geared more specifically towards analyzing Facebook content and interactions, then uses those measurements to provide metrics from which you can adjust your campaign. These metrics specifically help in user interaction and finding the perfect time to post your specific content.
  • Facebook Insights are a feature of every Facebook page. Our basic message to you is: use them! Our favorite features include details about when your fans are online and the success of different post types based on average reach.


  • Twitonomy is an analytics tool with both free and premium versions. Premium features include search analytics, custom date ranges and even downloading data into Excel or PDF. Twitonomy provides you with a wide range of analytics including tweets per day, who you retweet most often, which of your tweets were retweeted the most, which were favorited the most and much more. 
  • Followerwonk is a free product that allows you to grow your twitter account through very specific features tailored to increase the effectiveness of your account. Bio search research is good for exploring the twitter user graph of twitter. This is especially good for outreach. You can also compare users. When you plug in the names of other users on Twitter, you are provided with a Venn Diagram comparing followers, tweets, and anything else that you may want to know about other users out there. 
  • TweetDeck brings clarity to the mess of tweets that your twitter feed would be without organization. It’s considered a staple by many Twitter users. TweetDeck can help you distinguish between tweets from specific users, direct messages, replies, and the rest of the Twitter world. This will be helpful in untangling the constant feed of information.

Bonus: And, just for fun, compare yourself to a friend (or opponent) on Visual.ly. Political analytics doesn’t have to be boring after all.

7 Digital Best Practices for Your Political Campaign

“Hope is not a strategy.” 

Among the many awesome insights gained while repping for Voter Gravity at the Inbound 2013 marketing conference in Boston last month, introduced in last week’s blog post, I find this pithy statement sums them up (thanks, @BenGrossman).

It’s not enough to hope to be the best. You need to craft an effective digital plan for your campaign that will nurture relationships, empower your supporters, amplify your offline message, and ultimately, win votes.

Examining Inbound’s innovative digital marketing strategies through a political technology lens, I came away with seven practical tips that the savvy political campaign can begin to implement today:

1. Be on the way, not in the way. We’re in an attention economy. Your campaign shouldn’t be like the pop-up ad that blocks users from the content they wish they were experiencing, but rather the purveyor of the information they want. Don’t interrupt, interact. As Seth Godin puts it, “Be worth connecting with.” Don’t coerce, connect. Do so by creating content so meaningful, your audience can’t help but share it

2. Target, target, target. Just like you target voters in your district, know who you want to reach and make steps to do that. How do your voters spend their time online and where? Your voters are online all day, every day. As Pew recently found, the majority of Americans own smartphones. Of those smartphone users, 72 percent say they are within five feet of their smartphones the majority of the time.

3. Get up close & personal. Meaningful relationships resonate online as well as off. Create a hyper-relevant sense of community among your audience by showing how well you know and identify with them. Strategist Ben Grossman stated, “Social media is where your brand lives as a verb.” As a candidate, your site and micro-sites are key places to actively show voters that you deliver on the promises you’re making. Allow your personality and vision to show through each post, (high quality!) picture, infographic, tweet.

4. Get LinkedIn. One out of every three professionals on the planet is LinkedIn, according to @WillHambly, online marketing manager for LinkedIn. As you form relationships with those in your community and establish yourself as a thought leader, don’t leave out LinkedIn. These are business decision makers who invest their time on this professional network to gain insight on their careers and current affairs. In fact, there is six times more engagement with content on LinkedIn than with jobs. Connect with community members and share valuable content, linking back to your other sites and social networks.

5. Always include a clear call to action. Whether it’s a post on Facebook with a link or a speech at the local rotary club, ask your audience to do something with the information you just gave them.

6. Ask questions. Don’t think of your online presence as a platform but rather an opportunity to join the conversation. Give your voters a voice. Engage. Show that you value your audience’s input by initiating with questions and then responding to comments and other content.

7. Use data to measure and improve. Keep a close eye on analytics. Track your efforts through Google Analytics, built-in alalytics (like Facebook Insights) or third-party programs. Data analyst Nate Silver emphasized that paying attention to stats empowers your relationships and actions: “Statistics is the science of finding relationships and actionable insights from data.” He incisively ended his keynote with the quote: “The road to wisdom? Well, it’s plain and simple to express. Err, and err again, but less and less.”

Never Stop Learning: Using Campaign Technology to Test Theories in the Field

Most campaign consultants with the authority to make important decisions have decades of experience in politics. Many are very good at making these decisions, using the knowledge they’ve accumulated over all those years to create high quality strategies for winning elections.

The most valuable of these lessons are learned not from years of successful campaigning, but from years of mistakes. While there are many strategists who have fantastic ideas about properly messaging to and turning out voters, few have the empirical evidence to authoritatively confirm their beliefs.

For example, most consultants have ideas about matching the demographics of their volunteers and the voters to whom they’ll be speaking. Others have strong inklings about different groups of voters and how they’ll respond to different types of mailers (from color choices to language and messaging decisions).

Not enough of these consultants, however, have actually tested these theories in the field. Without a control group of voters with whom the “less efficient” strategies have been tested and shown to be unsuccessful, it is impossible to know for sure whether a certain strategy is best.

After the well-documented success of the 2012 Obama campaign’s use of campaign technology and A/B testing, more and more Republican efforts are beginning to utilize this technique. Despite its unquestionably rational credentials, however, the decision to dedicate a political outfit’s strategy formation to this more scientific methodology is rarely an easy one to make. There are two main reasons for this.

First, it is not often in the individual best interest (especially short-term) of a political consultant to discover that some (or even most) of his or her ideas could be wrong. For example, when a campaign identifies 5,000 supporters for a local election, and the candidate then gets 10,000 votes, the consultant will benefit from the assumption that basically every one of those 5,000 tagged supporters showed up on election day.

Looking back on the campaign with an analysis of election history data to find out which tagged supporters actually showed up on election day has the potential to teach consultants a significant amount about how to improve their turnout operations. And while even more could be learned from the utilization of A/B GOTV strategy testing in such an analysis (a technique which we highly recommend to everyone), even the simpler process of throwing supporter data up against microtargeted turnout statistics is too rarely seen in today’s Republican consulting climate.

Second, a consultant’s ability to learn new things about campaign strategy starts with a willingness to admit that he or she may have been doing things in a sub-optimal way – in many cases, for a very long time. The longer a strategist has been honing the craft, the more experience they gain. This experience often leads to greater power and responsibility, yet it also frequently serves as an obstacle to open-minded discussion when it comes to learning new things about how best to reach and turn out voters.

To ensure your campaign is utilizing the most efficient strategies possible, always be willing to let go of prior beliefs about how campaigns “should” use data. And never stop looking for new ways to experiment and improve upon everything you’ve learned so far. Discovering that your favorite strategy might not actually work as well as you thought won’t feel great at first, and you can be sure that such feedback is the best way to ensure that your campaign reaches its full potential.

Feeling like you know more about campaigning than your opposition is wonderful.

Winning is even better.

Better Connected. More Wins.

New Feature: Near Me helps activists connect in their community

Another week, another new Voter Gravity feature.

Imagine a volunteer named Nancy calls on Wednesday morning. Nancy is at home and wants to help the campaign starting immediately. In fact, she wants to go knock on doors. In a traditional campaign, she would have to drive to a campaign headquarters, sign up, get a walk list, and then go to a strange neighborhood and knock on the doors of people she likely does not know.

With the launch of Mobile Near Me, Nancy can be out knocking on doors in her neighborhood within minutes. Here’s how it works:

Once Nancy has been added to a campaign’s account as a volunteer, she can log in to the Voter Gravity mobile app via her smartphone.

After logging in, Nancy can select “Near Me” and Voter Gravity will dynamically create a list of targeted voters close to her location. She’s out the door and talking with neighbors, where she is likely to have relationships with people who will trust her — and be more likely to support her candidate.

But who is a targeted voter? That’s easy, campaigns just select a set of filtered criteria via the portal, just as they would to create a targeted walk list or phone bank.

Request a demo today to check out this new feature and the other innovative voter contact tools available on the Voter Gravity platform.

INBOUND13, Seth Godin, Nate Silver, and How to Stand Out in an “Attention Economy”

Voter Gravity attends Inbound 2013

Voter Gravity staff spent a week in August in Boston, connecting with innovators from across the country while attending INBOUND 2013, the world’s largest inbound marketing conference. Interacting with keynotes like social marketer Seth Godin and longtime-leading statistician Nate Silver, we came away with an even stronger sense of why mastering advancing technology is a must for modern political campaigns.

We live in an “attention economy” — Americans tune out paid advertising (including TV ads and intrusive robocalls). Buying attention doesn’t work.

So what does work? Seth Godin defined this digital revolution: “We are leaving the industrial economy and entering the connection economy.” Data reveals that 92 percent of American consumers trust recommendations from family & friends when making a decision. It’s the personal connection.

One of our must-see keynotes was Nate Silver who focused on prediction (of course!) and bringing meaning from a universe of noisy data. Big data becomes useful when we think in terms of actionable knowledge and statistics. Don’t be afraid to test, measure, try and err to determine how data will enable you to establish meaningful connections with your target audience.

Stay tuned for more takeaways on how to use technology to effectively reach your voters over the next few weeks!

Political Data and Asking the “Right” Questions

Properly organized political data can provide campaigns with a wealth of information about their voters – from which voters they should target, to how best they can deliver their message to each.

While the potential for what can be learned is immense (and largely untapped), there is an even greater potential for drawing inaccurate conclusions from such data. The human brain is incredibly proficient at recognizing patterns – even when no such patterns exist. Those who wish to put political data to efficient use, then, must take great care not to manufacture insights about groups of voters that simply aren’t true.

Before campaigns can begin accumulating their own political data, they must make some very basic – yet very important – decisions.

“Which questions should we be asking our voters?”

There are lots of assumptions being made about which questions are the “right” ones to ask voters, and there are a number of factors that must be considered before making this choice. Different campaigns and advocacy groups may have very different budgets, timeframes, and overall goals, so each must decide for themselves which questions are the “right” ones to ask.

For example, a smaller campaign for local office may not have the same ability to act on micro-targeted issue tags that a well-funded US Senate campaign might. Similarly, that same US Senate campaign may not have nearly as much incentive to use unregistered voter data that, say, a County GOP running year-round, targeted registration drives might. It’s important for every campaign to take a look at their budget, timeframe, and realistic goals before deciding which data points will be most useful for them.

We’ll dive in with specific examples of which questions are “right” for your campaign in later posts, and first we’ll explore more quantitative data that doesn’t require any questions at all.

While identifying supporters and key issues can provide invaluable information to campaigns, there is plenty of useful data already available that most campaigns are simply not utilizing as well as they should.

For example, if you’re running a primary campaign, identifying which voters in your district have voted in primaries in the past will prove far more useful than identifying which voters feel strongly about gun control. Making efficient use of demographic and voter history data is essential, and finding tools that allow your campaign to identify which voters are most likely to show up to your primary should be your top priority.

Once you’re in a position to effectively use quantitative data, then you can begin to think about mixing in qualitative data to your strategic decision making process.

It is true that qualitative data, which relies on the human element to collect and interpret what all this information means, is less “scientific” than more quantitative data points, such as age, gender, party affiliation, and voter history.

Making conclusions based on this data can often lead to serious errors – especially when those conclusions are used as the foundation of other analyses and decisions.

Accurately combining quantitative and qualitative data is no easy task. To reason correctly about such information, campaigns must consider many complicated, abstract facts that are strongly related yet importantly distinct, without a single mix-up or conflation.

Voter Gravity services a network of clients across the country, at all levels of political office. The insights provided by this closed loop of useful data, combined with the careful statistical techniques employed by our team of analysts, make it possible for campaigns everywhere to make truly informed decisions about their data.

It’s very nice – and surprisingly easy – to pretend that correlation implies causation. Here at Voter Gravity, we’re putting in the hard work necessary to ensure that conservative grassroots efforts everywhere have the tools and techniques they need to collect and store valuable, accurate information about voters – and also to act on that information wisely.

In the coming weeks, we’ll explore some examples of the most common data interpretation mistakes being made by campaigns today, as well as discuss how these campaigns can use Voter Gravity to correct them. Stay tuned.