If you’re launching a new non-profit or campaign, there’s a lot that needs to be done digitally to start (more tips here on how to successfully launch your campaign or non-profit) but I wanted to talk about social media in particular, since it’s the piece that candidates — or executive directors are likely to get tunnel vision on.
You might be lucky and your candidate already has active social media accounts to start, or you may be able to colonize old inactive social media accounts for your non-profit. If so, how do you reshape and relaunch? Or what if you’re starting from scratch?
First, for Facebook (where the bulk of your audience is likely to be):
Does your candidate have a personal profile? Are they willing to have the content wiped out and convert it to a campaign page? If they want to take the plunge, this is a great way to get a jump start on building an audience – and also clearing out any older controversial content in one fell swoop. (Here’s how to do it.)
If they have a personal profile but are NOT willing to convert it to a page, then you’ll want to talk through privacy settings for their personal profile, make sure they are only putting non-controversial content out, and perhaps allow followers on their profile too (here’s how to allow followers to a personal Facebook profile). But in general, assume that anything on social media has the potential to go very public, whether it’s privacy locked or not. Also — even if they’re keeping a personal profile, you’re going to want to set up a page for the campaign.
Do they have an old page from a previous campaign or defunct organization? You may be able to change the page name and username/URL. But keep in mind that you should never assume it’s possible to make changes – Facebook can and does change their policies on this. So it is far better to set up your Facebook page to something titled and URL’d generically like Their Name/voteforx, so they can run for everything from School Board to Senate.
Here’s some free and cheap methods to continue to build your audience.
- Use the “Suggest Page” option to upload an email list of your supporters and automatically suggest the page to them via Facebook. If they are not on Facebook, they will not see your suggestion.
- Send an email to your list and ask people to follow you on social media. (Note that a large chunk of your list will not be social media users, so if you have the ability to filter those out with your CRM or a tool like attentive.ly you should do so.)
- Once you’ve maximized the free, you may want to do some cheap geotargeted Facebook ads to boost your supporter base in your district. You can limit by zip code, political party, issue interest etc. so you are only talking to your preferred audience.
- If any of your Facebook page posts go viral (such as your campaign or organization launch announcement!), there’s a new trick you can use. Click on the number of people who liked the post (directly underneath the post).
A window will open up, showing you all the people who liked the post. If any of them are not fans of your page, you’ll see the option to invite them to be fans. Especially if you paid to boost a post, this is how to get some of those paid Likes to become fans.
For Twitter (where the influencers are):
- Make sure you’re following all the reporters and other elected officials in your district/state or who cover your issue beat. Hopefully some will follow you back.
- Pay attention to who likes and retweets your content, and follow them (they will hopefully follow back).
- Send an email to your list asking them to become social media followers (but it is especially important to be aware that 20% or less of your list is likely on Twitter.)
- Upload your list of supporters to Twitter and follow them (in the hopes of them following you back). Note that you can’t directly upload a CSV unlike Facebook, but you could upload a CSV to a gmail account’s address book and go from there.
- Figure out who the influencers are in your state, and follow those people. You can search on hashtags like #mileg or #flleg for example to see who is tweeting about state legislative issues in your state.
- In general, you may want to follow some of the major #uniteblue Tweeters – and they will hopefully follow back. There’s a nifty tool called Tweepi that may help: you can use it to bulk-follow the people that another account follows: you might want to start with the state party and some of the U.S. Reps. in your state and follow everybody that they follow. Or follow who the major non-profits working on your issues follow.
- I would not suggest doing ads on Twitter if you have a limited budget or are anything less than a major city or statewide race – the density in smaller areas is not there so you’re likely to pay a lot more per follower. If you have extra funds, Google search ads and targeted Facebook ads would be a wiser use of your digital budget.
Note that these tips are about how to increase your numbers to improve your campaign or non-profit’s credibility at or around launch. Actually getting your content seen by supporters is a different problem than vanity Likes.
Also note that I’m covering Facebook and Twitter only, as opposed to the plethora of tools out there – if you’re just launching, focus on where the largest audiences are and do them well. Be careful not to over-extend your campaign resources if you don’t have a full digital team to staff them well.
P.S. Looking to run for office in 2016? Be sure to read our guide for candidates or non-profits just getting started, to have a successful launch. If you’re looking for assistance on your website or launch, please read our campaign website guide too and contact PowerThru, we’d love to help!