Best case: we win!
So, now what? The first order of business post-election is do a report-back via email and social media & posting to your website, letting people know about your victory and asking them to share the good news. This is a great opportunity for a fundraiser too (on the non-profit side), to continue your good work.
For a non-profit, your digital infrastructure is most likely evergreen – assuming you used your main email list, website, social media channels for this campaign. If you set up any specific social media accounts or microsites for this fight, you’ll want to update those to let people know they will be going inactive, and redirecting people to your main site.
For a campaign, your digital campaign infrastructure may go into a bit of a fallow period.
Take care of basic housekeeping tasks, like making sure your domain name and web hosting is renewed, and you have those logins (and the renewal emails are going directly to you, not a temporary staffer account). I’ve seen many campaigns lose their URLs after the campaign is over, because they were registered by a campaign staff account that then disappeared.
If you’re newly elected (or even if you aren’t), you’ll want to get some legal advice for what you can and can’t say on campaign versus elected official websites, email lists etc. In the past, some candidates transitioned their campaign apparatus to the official side. But if you do this, you’ll need to start from scratch during your next campaign. It’s generally a better idea to keep two websites, two email lists, two sets of social media accounts etc. rather than trying to blur the lines by only keeping an official-side account.
If you keep the campaign digital side of things, you’ll want to make sure it’s kept reasonably up to date. Aim for at least one website post a month, maybe a Facebook post every week or every other week, and a Tweet every week at a minimum, maybe an email every other month. Make sure you’re not just asking for money via email, which will really wear your list out.
But what if you didn’t win?
You poured your heart out working on this issue or this campaign. Maybe it was even your campaign, and your name on the ballot. But you didn’t win. It’s heart breaking – I’ve been there many times. But you will get through this, and you may have another crack at that piece of legislation or elected office, or move on to something even better. You gave it your all, and you learned a lot—which will help you be better prepared for the next fight. But now what do you do with all that digital infrastructure from the campaign post-election?
If you just lost a legislative fight, then it makes sense to make sure any email lists are merged into your main list, any social media properties are either maintained or have pinned messages directing people to your main page and same with any microsites. Make sure you keep logins to social media, because you never know when the issue or candidate might come back around again, and you’ll need to revamp & revive their social media properties. Thank your volunteers for their work, and keep them up-to-date on what and when the next fight will be.
For political campaigns, Bernie Sanders has taken a popular route (which Howard Dean did in turn after 2004), by shifting his campaign over to a new organization. Dean for America became Democracy for America, and the Sanders campaign has become Our Revolution. That makes sense for a presidential-level campaign, with volunteers and resources in all 50 states. Note that Bernie Sanders is not necessarily prepping to run again, unlike Ted Cruz, who is keeping his campaign more or less under direct control. The Bernie Sanders social media accounts are still active and in his voice, which makes sense because he’s built an audience he wants to maintain engagement with. The jewel of the campaign, the email list of supporters and donors, is now a part of Our Revolution.
If a local organization makes sense for your campaign to continue your goals, your campaign email list is one of the most valuable assets it will have as a start-up.
If your candidate (or you!) is thinking of running for office again in the future, they’ll want to keep social media active too, like Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. Make sure that they have full access to everything before the campaign formally ends – if other people were posting to social media and on the website, sending mass emails for the campaign, your candidate will want to make sure they have all logins and passwords to continue, and any instructions needed to operate the mass email software or update the website.
Advise them not to let their email list & social media sit idle for months (or years), decaying. They should aim for at least one email a month if they can, to keep people up to date on what they’re doing and the issues they campaigned on. Social media updates should be more frequent than that – if they don’t have time to put lots of content out on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps link the two so content is cross-posted. This is not generally a good idea, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Also make sure to tidy up the campaign website so it has current content info, and old campaign info is hidden or gone. The site itself should be evergreen enough to carry on for another year or two without touching. Make sure the domain name & website hosting is renewed, and/or the contact info for the registration goes to a real person so it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Finally, be sure to shut down any online fundraising pages, remove donate buttons and links from the website and social media, so you do not need to deal with contribution refunds after the fact.
If this entire digital infrastructure is properly maintained, your candidate will have a real boost up when running for office in the future or your organization will be ready when the next legislative fight comes along.
Need help with post-election cleanup? Contact PowerThru today!