Using Social Media in Local Political Campaigns

For a long time, yard signs, postcards, and newspaper ads have been the staples in building awareness and name recognition in local election campaigns. However, times have changed and local political hopefuls who are using social media are reaping the rewards at the polls!

We all know who is running for president by the time we hit the polls. Massive advertising budgets dominate on the national level. But in local campaigns, those for city council, mayor, and county commissioner, budgets are smaller and people often vote for the name they saw the most.

So you have to consider, where do people spend their time? Reading newspapers or on their social media feeds? I ask my clients, "how much digital real estate do you have?" How many "digital yard signs" are people seeing in their feeds? And NO, I don't mean put your yard sign photo on your Facebook posts!!

So what is the key to success in local elections? Here are a few tips.

1. Be Who You Really Are - People recognize the canned campaign ads a mile away. Show them something different. When we ran Bill Dusch's campaign for Mayor of Concord, we both agreed that spotlighting his passions and his charismatic personality were the way to go. He told me quite honestly, "people will want me or they won't. But I need to be who I am." We loved playing into his love of running in some of his ads, but we blended those with "official" graphics of him in a suit and tie, as you would expect to see your mayor. But these played very well on social media, and not only did Bill have a great time running, he got elected too!

     

2. Video Marketing - Whether you want to or not, the stats don't lie. Videos get the most views and engagement. Putting your message on video allows people to get to know you. Andy Langford took this seriously and created an entire series of videos on all kinds of topics that allowed him to talk to the voters. Neither he nor JC McKenzie, who also ran for City Council, had any kind of social presence before running for office. This medium allowed voters to hear from them so they could get to know who they were and what they had to offer.

   

3. Don't Go Negative - Play up YOUR positive. When Terry Crawford decided to run for City Council, he was well known in the business community, but he was running against a popular incumbent. We had to play up his strengths and what he would bring to the table. We worked together to establish his brand and messaging and never ONCE mentioned his opponent. In the end, he upset the incumbent and is now serving on the City Council.

  

Conclusion

Regardless of how you feel about politics on social media, as I frequently tell our clients, it’s where the people are! But remember to try to use social media to allow people to get to know you authentically and shine a light on what you have already done in your community, both professionally and personally, while sprinkling in some of your campaign messaging.

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What the Candidates Had to Say

“I would like to commend Lisa Perry and her team on the great job they did on my mayoral social media campaign. From the start, they worked with me on gathering the proper information that would allow them to build a truly professional and aggressive social media presence. Perry Productions developed a schedule for the final 4 months of the campaign utilizing text, graphics and video to create Facebook, website, print and Instagram releases. They adhered firmly to this schedule and released a quality product each time that helped build a positive image of me and my campaign. I appreciate their efforts and know they were a big part of my successful run.” – Bill Dusch, Concord Mayor
"You cannot run a local campaign without the Perrys. They moved me from having quite limited social presence to a huge following. They took me by the hand, created a new Facebook page and webpage, designed the structure, and instructed me how to create videos, blogs, and more. As the campaign progressed, they became more assertive about pushing out content and monitoring the responses. They worked tirelessly and made sure that we stayed focused. I would not have won my election without their help." - Andy Langford, Concord City Council
“The team at Perry Productions did a great job with the image of my campaign from start to finish. They put together quality materials that helped me stand out and really amplified why I was running. I appreciated their expertise especially in the realm of social media as I wanted to reach as many people as possible, but have zero experience using Facebook myself. The team at Perry Productions played a major role in helping me get elected.” – J.C. McKenzie, Concord City Council
“I just wrapped up a very successful campaign for in my run for City Councilman for Concord, NC. The end result was that I won the Council seat and defeated an incumbent, which is rare in our local elections. Our campaign was very focused and strategic. One key element was our use of social media. To make sure we went at it professionally, I hired Lisa Perry and her company, Perry Productions. Lisa and I developed a social media game plan and she and her team executed it. We developed a new Facebook page specifically for the campaign. Lisa created a new, fresh look for the page that centered on my campaign platform. As I said, the result was victory. If you are considering running for political office, I would highly recommend Lisa and Perry Productions to develop and manage the social media element of your campaign.” – Terry Crawford, Concord City Council
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