As you connect with more people online, the maintenance needs of your social networking will grow along with it. How you arrange to keep up with your social media needs will depend on your campaign. Having a candidate fully handle the campaign‘s online efforts might not be a good idea. Social media can become addictive, and a candidate needs to engage people in the real world. At some point, some or all of these duties should probably be delegated to others.

Consider how your campaign will handle the following:

  • How will you keep up with new content, new conversations, and immediate responses to issues?
  • Others may take your content and remix it in ways you that you cannot control. How will you handle that? Generally, it‘s best to take a hands-off approach. Trying to remove or completely control content can become a distraction.
  • How will you handle people voicing criticisms within your own social network?
  • Who will manage two-way conversations and interact with people in your network?
  • Will you allow community policing and deleting of offensive materials?
  • Are you prepared to shift your strategy based on how your followers interact with your campaign? For example, if your videos prove to be popular, how will you capitalize on that? Will you shift resources to create more videos, or find new ways to promote them?

Your organization may want to recruit a web coordinator to post site updates, manage social network profiles, help compose e-newsletters, set up your fundraising page, and handle your online advertising. Whoever maintains the campaign’s web presence will have the responsibility of maintaining the campaign’s online focus and theme. If you use a volunteer, be sure to keep in close contact with that person. If they do not perform updates in a timely manner or cannot handle the job, then find someone else to do it.

You may want to set up an update schedule for your campaign. This would set a regular timeline for Facebook and Twitter updates, press releases and policy position updates. However an update schedule needs to be flexible enough to respond quickly to breaking news and events.

The Least You’ll Want To Do

Campaigns can go deep into social media. Very deep. Large campaigns have the resources to hire outsiders to run, monitor and create a multi-platform system. Smaller campaigns may have one or two people working the online side of the campaign.

The following is our action item recommendations for smaller campaigns with limited resources. How much you choose to do will depend on your comfort level, the office you are seeking, and how much you feel you need to take on.

1) Create a Google account. When you create a campaign Gmail account, it also allows you to create a Google account at the same time. A campaign Google account provides you with access to more tools, including Analytics, AdWords and Google Calendar.

2) Have a campaign website. A website serves several purposes. It presents information about the candidate, provides a place for online donations and acts as the hub of your online presence. Campaign websites are discussed in more detail below.

3) Start an email list. You may think it’s old-school, but email is still a great and cost effective method to reach supporters and raise donations. Email is discussed in more detail below.

4) Create a Facebook Page and a Twitter account. Crosslink these accounts you’re your campaign website. Update with news and updates about your campaign. If you do not plan to use or update these accounts, then don’t bother creating them.

5) Create other social media accounts. If you are going to use video, reserve a YouTube account. You can do this through your campaign Google account. Add relevant videos and embed them into your campaign website. Create an Instagram and/or Pinterest account if you plan to share photos.

6) Create an SMS campaign (discussed below). Promote both online and offline wherever possible. Send alerts as necessary.

7) Engage in relevant forums.

8) Monitor your campaign and respond quickly to direct questions and comments. When engaging in dialogue, do not reply over multiple channels. For example, if you are responding to someone in Facebook, do not post the reply on Twitter.

9) Seek participation from followers rather than simply pushing out material. Ask questions. Create polls or surveys. Encourage feedback and dialogue to build and sustain interest.

TIP: You can set up tools to automate your social media updates, but it is often better to post items separately to each platform. For example, with a website update, you may want your Tweet the page title, but for Facebook, you could use the article or page title along with an interesting blurb.

Action Items

Determine how much you want to commit to social networking. You can always increase what you do, but if you start with a site or platform, you shouldn’t let it wither away. Get to know the platforms before you start your campaign. That way, you are less likely to make any gaffes or mistakes.