August is traditionally a quiet month for politics, but not so this year. With the conventions coming up and an aggressive air war in the presidential campaign, voters will likely be turning off their TVs on vacation, but they’ll still be online via smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Here’s three ways to connect with voters during August, and to get ready for the fall campaign.
1. Use Social Media — with Authenticity
Both campaigns and official offices have a lot of activities in August, due to the Congressional recess. To get the most mileage from your candidate/member being in the state, share all of their public events on Facebook and Twitter.
But especially on Facebook, stay away from the generic “It was great to be with the [BLANK] breakfast/womens/county group today” messages. Social media audiences look for authenticity, not 140 character versions of official statements. Use tools like Instagram to share photos from not only events, but also a “behind the scenes” look at campaign life.
Does your candidate/member like beef jerky? Snap a pic of them picking up a bag at 7-11 and post it to Facebook. It’s that sort of thing that is very easy to do, but builds strong relationships with your supporters. Congressman Tom Cole’s campaign has built a good following on Facebook quickly just by adding these sorts of behind the scenes campaign photos to their page. By engaging their supporters in a very authentic manner, they’ve built a large online audience quickly, and an audience that interacts with the campaign. These online supporters will be invaluable when it comes GOTV time.
2. Build Your Email List
August is a great time to really focus on building your email list. Take a clipboard to every event and signup everyone you can. If you’re going to Tampa for the RNC Convention, gather email addresses while you’re there, and not just from your own delegation. Having the ability to email people even outside your state can be beneficial for fundraising.
Also take some time in August to create a calendar of email updates that you want to send out through election day. Sure, you’ll need to send unscheduled rapid response emails, but as with any campaign activity, having a schedule can bring just a little bit of order to the chaos. Plan for three types of emails:
- Fundraising appeals
- Grassroots updates
- Contrast emails
Earlier this cycle, we used email campaigns to deliver a series of infographics for a campaign. There’s lots of creative things you can do visually by working with your designer. But you’ll only have the bandwidth to do these things if you plan for it.
3. Budget for Online Ads
A majority of the people who will vote for you go online to look for news about the election. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to look at your voter contact budget and see if you can re-allocate 10% of it to online advertising. Keep in mind that the presidential campaigns are spending about 25% of their TV budget to do online advertising, and even though you may not have those level of resources, it’s clearly becoming more important at the top of the ticket.
Online ads today can be highly targeted, even so accurate as to target households based on party or other demographics. You can also target ads to people who have visited your website, but in order to do that you’ll need to add a small snippet of code to your site. Contact us if we can help you set this up, or reach out to a firm like CampaignGrid directly.
By taking just a few steps to make digital an important part of your campaign during August, you’ll have the resources and the plan in place this fall to effectively raise funds, communicate your message, and turnout voters using digital media. And even if it only moves the needle a couple of points, in this environment, that could be the difference.