This is the fifth in a series of articles about “How to Get Elected as a Libertarian.” This article focuses on how to effectively use media and social media in your campaign.
In summary, having an effective and organized media campaign is extremely important for a Libertarian who is running for public office. Remember, your job as a candidate is to convince voters to know, like, and trust you. Obviously, you can’t meet every voter in person, so you need to use the tools that allow you to communicate with them.
Websites, social media, and traditional media are separate but related areas. You should be active on all these media throughout your entire campaign.
It is important to have an easy way for people to find you on the internet. Having a website is the first step. It’s also good to be able to send your website address to the media.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. GoDaddy is a great place to start, as you can buy your domain name there, and also create your website. You can also create a free website on websites such as Wix.
Of course, the more extensive the website, the better. However, at the very least, your main page should have contact information and information about your background, and why citizens should vote for you.
Ideally your domain name would include your name and position, so that google picks it up. The text throughout your website should include any phrases that your voters might search for on google.
Having one good webpage at an early point in the campaign is more important than taking extra time to build and launch an extensive website. You can add webpages as your campaign progresses, or even add sections such as “events” or “issues.” These website pages about issues and events can then be promoted on social media.
Always remember that voters are watching you on your social media, even on your personal pages. It is important to always present the image of a professional person who the voters can relate to.
You can promote your campaign by providing information and statements on your personal pages, whether Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or anywhere else you will find voters. Just don’t overdo it, and be sure you continue to have posts which are not about your campaign. Also, it is always important to show interest in others. Respond to any questions or comments, and engage them in conversations on their page. Social media is two-way. Don’t just use the media to promote yourself!
Neighborhood websites or neighborhood “pages” are also excellent places to introduce yourself to voters. Just be careful not to take over any of these pages, and post according to the rules of the administrators.
The best way I have found to reach voters is to create a separate Facebook page for your candidacy. This allows you to pay a very reasonable rate to reach people outside your circle. Again, the title of the page should include your name and the position. Include links to your website, pictures of you, and information about your candidacy. Build your audience by posting daily. Again, mix news about your stances and candidacy with human interest pictures and stories about the area, meetings, issues, etc.
Invite all your friends to like your candidate page, and tell everyone on your other social media about the new page.
Last but not least, not many people will see your page unless you pay to promote your posts. It is very cost effective to pay for Facebook ads, as they are a fraction of the cost of other media. You have to jump through Facebook’s hoops to be approved as an advertiser. However, once you are approved, for just a few dollars you can target people in your area and make sure that they see your messages.
Traditional Media Campaign
Even if you have a website and social media, it is important to have a traditional media campaign. Even if you don’t read a newspaper, many voters still do, particularly senior citizens who vote at a high rate. The same is true for traditional radio and television stations.
Start by making a complete list of all newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations in the area that you are targeting. Most of these media have websites with contact information, and some even have a special email address where you can send press releases. Add each of these email addresses to your list.
Start out by writing an announcement about your campaign, combined with a decent professional picture. Also, include your website and social media addresses. Email the announcement and picture to each person on your media list. Take the time to write each email personally, rather than copying or blind copying each person.
Each week, think of a newsworthy event and send it to each person on the list. This could be information about events you are attending, things you are doing for the community, or statements that you make about issues in your area.
In summary, while campaigning as a Libertarian, it is vital to use the internet and traditional media to build your presence in the community.
As an elected Libertarian for a Township Trustee in a small rural northern Michigan town, I believe that the Libertarian Party of Michigan should recruit as many qualified, freedom loving candidates as possible to run for similar local roles across the state.
The topic next month will be about political signs. I welcome ideas and questions at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.