Automation in advocacy and political social media

One of my favorite taboo topics in digital marketing is automation. The funny thing is that it’s not taboo in any other sector, other than in advocacy and politics.

Why do political and advocacy teams not want to automate their social media?

“Because you can see where it says Hootsuite on your post.”

Not anymore. (Also Hootsuite isn’t your only option. Read on.)

“Because we want this account to look like a real person.”

But do you? Do you want it to look like your candidate is on twitter and facebook and instagram all day long. No one buys that anymore.

“We need to be in the conversation, not just tweeting out random things.”

There’s absolutely room to layer automated planned and evergreen content with timely updates. Also, have a plan. Don’t tweet out random things.

What other marketers know about social media users that political and advocacy marketers chose to ignore.

Most issue advocacy and political marketers who use paid media know that their ads need to be viewed at a certain frequency to persuade people to act. But somehow, they leave this logic out of the equation when it comes to owned content.

And before you can say, “no one wants to see the same tweet twice,” a user just logged off and missed your tweet and you’re now beholden to the algorithms to bump your tweet back up into their feed the next time they log in.

Users don’t sit online all day like social media marketers do. They bop in and out of twitter and instagram and facebook when they have a chance.

When a meeting is sooo boring.

Waiting to be called at the DMV.

While they’re watching tv.

If you think that no one wants to see the exact same tweet or post twice, then rewrite it. And then rewrite it again. Sharing the same information and content every time.

Schedule that series of messages to go out at least 5 times in 2 weeks. Now you’re starting to see some traction from your organic content.

Maybe you’re starting to think scheduling could work for some things. (you’re right)

Automating your organic marketing could work for many efforts in the political and advocacy space.

For example, if you’re a non-profit, you could be running evergreen fundraising asks. Or acquisition asks.

If you create a high quality piece of content to share – share it many times over a few weeks. Even if you ran it on paid.

Taking the time to develop a content plan over many weeks and months and then scheduling the bulk of the tweets will free up resources to engage in rapid response moments.

Or send more emails.

Or optimize your landing pages.

You get the picture.

Wanna test drive this?

First, start with a content strategy.

Don’t start automating all willy nilly.

After you know what you need to be talking about and how you want to say it, find a great tool:

Hootsuite (mentioned above) allows you to schedule up to 30 messages on their free tier. Great intro to automation.

OneUp will give you 7 days for free.

SocialChamp looks pretty much the same.

And finally, CoSchedule, which was instrumental in building the PoliticalJobs email list from scratch.

Get to it, friend!

Political Campaign Launch Checklist

On any level of the ticket, there are some basic components that we expect of a campaign launch online. Sometimes, there are situations where you need to be ready to announce in a moment’s notice, and it can be difficult to determine what is immediately needed to get things started.

The predatory environment and changing vendor landscape creates chaos and confusion for first time candidates. Media firms claim they do digital. Digital firms claim they do branding. We’ve heard it all, right?

Let me clear the air for you.

Here’s a quick and dirty check list for when you have limited time or resources to announce your candidacy.

Develop your campaign brand

☑️ Logo and simple style guide that includes colors, fonts, button-style

☑️ Photography and b-roll video that represents your brand

Make a splash with your launch video

☑️ Digital versions of launch video cut to shorter run-times and including a CTA/button on the end frame

☑️ Ask for stills to be taken during filming for later use/consistency

All of the digital components

☑️ Before you roll out that launch video, have a nice looking landing page (single page website that is mobile friendly!) with these two main goals:

  1. collecting donations
  2. email sign up

☑️ Don’t focus on building social media channels and audiences right away. You can share your launch organically from existing accounts (or even run ads), but be sure to push everything back to your site, not a facebook page.

☑️ Your campaign website should not have links to follow you on social media in prominent places like the header or footer. Instead, put them on a contact page to de-emphasize them.

☑️ Focus on building your email list only!

☑️ Update all of your social media profile links to send users to your sign up form or landing page – keep driving people to email.

☑️ Set up one onboarding email (at least) to auto-respond to people when they sign up for your email list. Thank them for signing up and start to share your story and why you’re running.

☑️ Even if that one email isn’t a fundraising email, always include a donation link in the email for anyone inspired to do so.

Launch Time

That’s it! That’s the bare-bones list of things you can do to get your political campaign off to a great start online.

Unless you’re a professional marketer, you will need help doing some of these things for your campaign and that’s ok. Just take this list with you as you plan your launch to help keep your priorities top of mind.

Data, take the wheel

Imagine having a website for your organization and knowing something isn’t working or at least should be working better.

You think it needs a redesign because it has to be a design flaw. So you start looking around in your budget to see what you can shake loose. You have a rough idea of what a website redesign might cost and you think you can get it approved internally.

I hate to break it to you but you might as well throw that money right out the window.

And let me know when you do so I can be sure to be walking by!

Here’s the truth that no marketer or designer wants to tell you: it mostly doesn’t matter how your website looks. All that really matters is how it performs.

Sure, we can get into the argument about brand equity or aesthetics. But for the sake of this, I’m going to assume you are using a logo and your brand colors and UI choices truly aren’t that terrible on the eyes.

How do you know how well the site is performing?

Data.

So, before the budget, before the RFPs, before the internal buy-in and all those meetings. Start with the data. Data tells us where our users are coming from and going. It tells us what they’re doing and not doing!

Don’t change a single thing on your site until you have data to back up your reason!

Before you worry about driving more traffic to the new and improved site, it’s important to focus on increasing conversions of existing traffic. That means, if your goal is to raise more money online, look at your data and find out exactly how many site visitors are becoming donors.

If you’ve built up a relationship with your audience through email, ads, or organic content, and they’re getting to the site and still not supporting your cause, the first place to look is your data.

3 ways to include data in your website redesign

1. Run a thorough audit of current site traffic

Please don’t waste a single red cent until you’ve done this. Knowing traffic patterns can help you build out a content plan. Knowing exit pages can help you plug the leaks. Knowing the volume of visitors on landing pages and source channels of those visitors can help you understand where they are in the funnel.

If you don’t start with an audit, you know none of this with certainty. Every UX choice becomes an assumption or a guess. Or worse, it becomes political, meaning people are pushing their own agendas in the design process. Effectively, you’re building a redesign in the dark.

2. Establish current conversion rates for your objectives

So you’re running a marketing program and you have a website…you must have greater objectives than sending people to your website. You’re either listbuilding to sell something, fundraising, or persuading people to take some action.

Before you can ask if your site is optimized for that objective, you have to know how often people are even doing that one thing from your website.

Establish a baseline.

3. Set goals (KPI’s) before your redesign

If your team establishes that they want to increase online donations through your website by 10%, for example, your redesign should make decisions around this goal.

If your team establishes listbuilding as their objective and seeks to increase the conversion of visitors to users on your email list, your redesign will look totally different.

See where I’m going here?

Knowing what’s working and not working is the key to unlocking your KPI goals.