If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ve noticed our strong emphasis on the importance of being where your voters are – whether at their front door or on their favorite social networking sites. We think it’s important to combine a solid offline campaign with a complementary online, or digital, campaign. Here are our top three reasons why:
1) The numbers speak for themselves.
- Total number of month active Facebook users: 1,110,000,000
- Total number of mobile Facebook users: 680,000,000
- Total number of minutes spent on Facebook each month: 700 billion
- Average time spent on Facebook per visit: 20 minutes
These statistics tell us that voters are spending at least 20 minutes on Facebook daily. Research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicates voters are more likely to be active online. How can you get a slice of their online time? Other stats tell us that politics and politicians online can translate into offline action:
- When asked directly, 25% of social network users say they have gotten more involved in a political or social issue after reading about it on a social networking site (Pew Research Center).
- Researchers at the MacArthur Research Network on Youth & Participatory Politics report that young people who are politically active online are twice as likely to vote than those who are not.
- 45% of people have used their smartphone to read other people’s comments on a social networking site about a 2012 candidate or the campaign in general (Pew Research Center).
2) Powerfully prioritize.
It’s easy to see that a campaign must have some digital presence, but how important is it? A winning campaign knows how to prioritize – determining how to make the best use of money, staff, and volunteers. How does a digital campaign factor in to your campaign priorities as a whole?
Digital campaigning should never replace boots-on-the-ground, face-to-face campaigning. That grassroots work that you’ve been doing is imperative, and your online focus should not come at the cost of losing the real person-to-person interaction. However, that doesn’t mean it should take a back seat. Running a campaign will be difficult and time consuming, even at the local level. But this is where prioritizing comes into play. Even if you’re a local candidate, appoint someone in charge of your social media strategy (while always having a hand in it yourself. After all, this is a natural extension of your personality and your campaign as a whole.)
3) Relate. Connect. Be relevant.
As we’ve talked about before, for someone who has had limited interaction online, trying to bring your campaign to this venue can seem intimidating. You can read as many manuals and tips on how to go about establishing that online presence, but sometimes to make it click, you need to be able to relate to what you’re doing.
Think of digital campaigning as attending any campaign event. Various types of people will show up, maybe for the free food, maybe to get to know who you are and why you’re running, perhaps to oppose you. But they are all there – living breathing opportunities to get your message across and to connect with them. You network with people who express interest in fundraising, you talk to as many people as you can, shake as many hands as possible, and try to get your name established in a powerful, positive way.
Digitalizing your campaign is the exact same thing. Only at a different venue. Instead of 60-70 people who show up to your page, you can attract tens of thousands of views. You may not be shaking hands, but you’ll be letting people know who you are in an incredibly personal way.