Since 2016, I have worked for several political campaigns and at one time ran for office. For political candidates, social media presence is highly important, but how you present yourself on social media is ever more important. Here are just a few things to keep in mind before proceeding with that “create” button.
Building an online reputation for yourself can be tricky. You must learn to embrace the awkwardness of politics and be willing to focus on the positive things in your life. What makes you happy? Why are you running? People love to see candidates that are passionate about certain topics because they want to feel a personal connection and know that they are going to be represented well. Show your voters that you care.
Evolving your social media presence leading up to the official debut of your political campaign can help produce wider outreach and build your campaign’s audience. This can translate into higher voter turnout on election day. Using a moderate balance of social media and field work, your message will be more positively received. This type of presence is important because even after election day, you can use these accounts to establish platforms for other future ventures.
To maintain your public and private identity, you may want to create a new account when you run for office. For transparency reasons, it’s always good to make an email for the campaign. This can be easily done by going to Gmail. Sign up with this email among all your social media accounts. It’s perfectly fine to have both a public and personal account, but please be careful: Internet audiences and algorithms portray us in certain ways, and we must be vigilant about what we post.
You’ll always want to maintain a main website. The founding social media accounts you’ll want to consider establishing are Facebook (Page), Twitter, Instagram. Depending on your base, TikTok and Snapchat are also useful for younger audiences. When building a website, think of popular website building platforms such as Wix or WordPress. When you sign up for their website domain package, you’ll also be able to create an even more professional email such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating a username and link that can be easily identified and tied to your campaign will help voters find your social media. Here are some examples if I were running for state representative:
To wrap all of these links proceed to then make an account on Linktr.ee or AllMyLinks. These websites will give you the opportunity to take all of these links and display them on one webpage that’s easier to find.
Always remain consistent with your postings. What you post on one account, try to do on every account around the same time frame. This can easily be done through cross-posting (connecting the social media accounts together) or by scheduling posts to be displayed at a certain time.
One effective way to use social media is to promote local initiatives, your voter interactions and other in-district activities that constituents find important. Posting a photo or video of your location, tagging that location and using the right hashtags can and grow your following.
Before you start posting to your new accounts, you need to establish a running theme, color, and logo. You can do this by signing up for Canva or PicMonkey. Both are subscription based, but Canva has a limited free version and PicMonkey allows for a free trial. Create your logo in the correct sizes to build your accounts’ Cover Photo and Profile Picture. If you have a professional headshot, use that as the profile picture but keep it consistent with every profile you have.
Types of profiles you’ll want to target or follow in the beginning include possible endorsement organizations, unions, small businesses, public officials, local news and media outlets, public figures, and voters in the area.
Depending on how large your campaign is, you may or may not want to use paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Whether you use paid ads or not, in order to do this, you must have them notarized and verified by the government showing proof that your social media accounts are legitimate. You can do this by going to Facebook.com/ID. Facebook & Instagram work together with ads, but Twitter is separate You can access Twitter Ads through Twitter Business.
Graphic and animation tools, like those available in Canva, can assist you in making these videos. It’s very simple and easy. Promote your platform through videos created for general statements and posts for holidays and observances of federally recognized celebrations. This shows that you are up-to-date and current with what’s going on in a voter’s social media algorithm, but that you also value and take the time to observe these days of importance.
Less is more when it comes to promoting yourself on social media. It’s quality over quantity. Once you have posted, let it resonate with your followers. Post consistently. Sporadically posting as it can create the perception of unprofessionalism and cause you to lose followers. If you don’t know the answer to a question, never try to answer it without factual information. It’s better to be honest with someone and admit you don’t know something, than to tell them something other than the truth.
These are just some of the many tools you can use to reach potential voters through social media. Even if you don’t win, always leave your social media accounts in the know with a kind exit and thank you message. Instead of deleting my social media accounts after my unsuccessful 2017 campaign run, I chose to further them by expanding my platform and reaching out to the public in other capacities. You may find your page to be even more useful after a campaign. After all, you have gained a following and now have a wider array of choices for your next bid or potential move.
For more information regarding a run for political office, reach out to Jason Kohl at linktr.ee/jasonkohl