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Line Kristensen is a former Head of Strategic Campaign Planning for the Conservative Party. She has worked with numerous new political parties and movements across America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and currently works for NationBuilder.

Social media is under ever-increasing scrutiny with Facebook, Twitter and others under pressure to regulate.

In the last week, Twitter has decided to ban political advertisements and Facebook pulled the Government’s MyTown campaign for being too political. In this climate, how can you still run winning digital campaigns?

Digital campaigning is an ongoing conversation

You need to optimise their digital engagement and advertisement to focus on data collection. A visit to your’s website, a tweet, or Facebook post is just the start of a conversation with the recipient, not the end.

By asking people to take actions like signing a petition, joining a local email list, or filling in a survey, your campaign can continue to communicate with people throughout the campaign and afterwards (providing they collect the relevant consent to do so) without having to pay for it each time. This is how you can fight some of the current mistrust in politicians.

Encourage peer-to-peer sharing

The most inexpensive and effective way of running an impactful digital campaign is by leveraging the party’s existing supporters. By asking supporters to share out content about the campaign or relevant victories, and to reach out to other community members and encourage them to sign up to hear more from the campaign, you capitalise on an organic outreach opportunity. 

Have an action-based website

Gone are the days where people visited a website to read all the content in great detail. Now you must ensure that all items such as news stories, campaign pledges, and events are brief in copy, and encourage visitors to engage.

If you are posting a story about keeping the local fire station open, then they should also ask people to sign the petition at the same time. If there is a story about a visit to a local business, then they should also use it as an opportunity to ask visitors to nominate another business to visit.

Email reputation is everything

When it comes to getting emails into voters’ inboxes, reputation is everything. Internet service providers like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo look at historic performance to predict future behaviour.

This means if a good amount of people are opening campaign emails and clicking on the links, then the campaign’s emails are more likely to end up in people’s inboxes rather than their junk folders.

To get the best performance, you should target their emails by subject and engagement, and only email people who have opened emails recently.

Emailing old lists of disengaged supporters increases the likelihood that they won’t open the emails,  might not have given clear consent to receive the email, or might mark the email as spam (as they can’t remember signing up). It is also a major red flag for internet service providers if the email addresses on your list are no longer in use.

Targeting is a good thing

People have short attention spans. Most of them only spend four minutes per week consuming political information, so it’s best not to waste time by talking to them about things they might not care about.

If you’re smart you should offer people the option to tell them what policy areas they are interested in when they subscribe to their mailing list, and you should then email people based on this information and what actions their subscribers have previously taken. 

You should not be scared away from running digital campaigns in a climate where there is ever-increasing regulation. Instead, smart campaigns should engage with their community about the issues that matter to them. 

32 comments for: Line Kristensen: Five ways for candidates to run a winning digital campaign

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