The ubiquity and affordability of the Internet have disrupted many industries. Political campaigns are no exception. There are many powerful tools available to candidates who know how to use them to their advantage. The best news? Many of these tools are either low or no-cost and you don’t need much technical skill.

In this 9-part blog series, we’re going to show you how to build a Digital Political Campaign machine.

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The Importance of a Digital Political Campaign

Why is this important? Maybe you’re just running for local school board or selectman and you don’t think it’s worth the trouble with all of these complex tools. Or maybe you think that politics is best done in person, without a screen or keyboard getting in the way.

Here are four reasons why a Digital Political Campaign is important:

  1. Reach: Taking advantage of tools like social media and paid advertising can extend your campaign’s reach in very powerful and affordable ways. It’s true that meeting and greeting are important aspects of any local campaign. However, digital technologies give you the means to stay in touch with people in between live meetings. And, of course, it’s probably not possible to meet every single voter in your district. A large digital footprint increases your ability to reach them all.
  2. Efficiency: Whether you’re running on a tiny, shoestring budget or a large, well-funded campaign, it’s important to use your funds wisely and efficiently. And no matter how much money you have, time is always your most precious resource. By mastering a few simple collaboration, design, and communication tools, you can greatly increase the return on investment of both your time and money.
  3. Capability: Sometimes, there are simply things you can’t do without technology. Need to process a donation using a credit card? You’ll need a payment processor for that. Want to provide shared access to a campaign calendar with multiple contributors? Technology’s your answer there, too. Etc…
  4. Assets: But perhaps the most important reason is the fact that digital technology allows you to build assets that belong to you and ONLY you. Your email database belongs to you. Your Facebook fans are yours. The yard sign directory stays in your possession. When you use digital technology wisely, you’re building a scalable machine that will help you win reelection and/or higher office. After all, you never know what the future may bring. Today you may be running for city council. In a couple of years, it could be mayor and then, who knows, perhaps Congress.

Cost and Complexity

The thought of building a sophisticated Digital Political Campaign fills many people with anxiety.  We understand why. But that’s why we’re writing this blog series! We’re going to show you that anyone can take advantage of these technologies. Many of the tools and services we’re going to cover are either very low cost or completely free. And if you can use a word processor and spreadsheet, that’s about all of the technical know-how you need.

Overview

Without further delay, here’s an overview of what we’ll cover in this blog series.

Infrastructure

digital infrastructureThe first half of our series will provide detailed, step-by-step instructions for setting up your Digital Political Campaign infrastructure. In each case, we’ll try to provide a no-cost, a low-cost, and a premium option for you to consider. It’s important to note that our system isn’t the only way to achieve success. At every step, there are going to be dozens of alternatives. And there are also one-stop solutions for political campaigns that offer many of these benefits.

We could provide an exhaustive comparison of every possible tool, service, and solution. But our goal here is to keep it as simple as possible for you. We’re going to show you some of the most common, affordable, and easy-to-use tools based on our experience. This system is also designed to provide you with more ownership and less dependence than other solutions. That’s because we believe in helping you build a permanent, scalable machine.

We will cover the following topics in our Digital Political Campaign series:

  • Website: Does every campaign need a website? Absolutely. Here’s why. We’ll show you how to register a domain name and build a simple, affordable website. It’s a plan that anyone can follow, but will also use a platform that can scale as large as you need in the future.
  • Email: The single most valuable marketing asset any campaign (or business for that matter) will ever have is a high-quality email database. The best time to start building your email database was years ago. But if you didn’t, then the next-best time to start is TODAY. We’ll show you how to get started in ten minutes without spending a dime.
  • Social Media: We’ll examine all of the relevant social media channels and discuss their relative strengths and weaknesses. Setting up all of your social media channels isn’t overly complicated, but it is a little tedious and the blog series will show you how to do it right the first time.
  • Collaboration: Whether you have a full-blown campaign staff or just a couple of friends and family helping you out, we’ll show you how to maximize team efficiency, limit duplication of effort, and reduce costly mistakes.

Digital Political Campaign Strategies

Art of War by nbarreto on Flickr

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Now that you’ve got all of these great tools, you need a user’s manual. The second half of our blog series provides strategies, tactics, tips, and tricks for making the most of your Digital Political Campaign machinery.

  • Search Engines: Truthfully, search engine optimization (SEO) is a very complex discipline. Our goal isn’t to make you an expert at getting to the top of Google’s search results. That would be an exhaustive course by itself. Instead, our goal here is to teach you the very basics so that you understand how search engines work and avoid making any critical mistakes.
  • Social Media: The good news is that social media is so easy to use, everyone thinks they’re an expert. The bad news is that social media is so easy to use, everyone thinks they’re an expert. The reality, however, is that it’s really easy to make costly mistakes. Our social media post will show you how to build your audience and get the most out of it.
  • Email: This article will show you how to use your email database to stay engaged, inform your constituents, and drive fundraising. We’ll provide information on crafting subject lines, taking advantage of current events, and – perhaps most importantly – communicating a value proposition. And we’ll provide some templates you can copy for your own campaign.
  • Advertising: Social media channels are growing extremely powerful and sophisticated with their advertising platforms. Facebook, in particular, offers incredible abilities to reach voters. This article will cover some of the basics, explain the different targeting options, and offer tips for creating affordable, effective advertising campaigns.

Don’t Miss Out

The best way to ensure you don’t miss any of the articles in this series is to subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get a weekly wrap-up of our favorite campaign tips from around the web, plus links to any new blog posts we’ve published.

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