This article has been written by our friends at Estrategia Democrática
The new digital frontier that campaigns are facing today is how to turn their large followings into a victory on Election Day. In the world of modern campaigns, where pollsters are being replaced by social listening tools and where online movements are gaining popularity over traditional parties, there is no more important task than making sure your online support is reflected at the ballot. Based on our experiences mobilizing voters throughout Latin America, at Estrategia Democrática we recommend three simple steps for turning your online support into the exponential growth of your voteshare. Tectonica’s powerful digital tools will help your campaign at every step along the way.
The first key to securing votes through your online following is to run an authentic and creative recruitment campaign. If you have a large following on social media, you may notice that some followers are incredibly loyal and will support your brand through thick and thin. Through a concerted effort, these “true fans” can do a lot for your campaign – from fundraising, to recruiting other organizers, to spreading your message online and in their neighborhoods. To unlock their potential, you’ll have to recruit them to the campaign and onboard them so that they understand how to participate. Authenticity is the most important ingredient for the recruitment campaign – many fans will only support you if they understand why they need you; maybe you are trying to fight the influence of big money in politics, or perhaps you are a young, new candidate who needs the support in order to compete fairly against an established leader. A recruitment campaign is fairly simple as long as you have the right tools; NationBuilder-compatible sites, like those designed by Tectonica, will help you recruit, register and track your supporters.
The second step to turning your following into a greater voteshare is engaging and listening to supporters. Engagement today comes in two complementary forms: digital and in-person – the latter being crucial if you want participation at the polls on Election Day. Once you recruit your most loyal followers to turn them into volunteers for your campaign, try to get them show up for events in person: you will see that many of your most strident online supporters often fail to show up. This is the mirage created by the lower barriers of the digital world; supporters liking your page or your posts are not necessarily going to dedicate the time or effort needed for you to win, which is why you need a series of in-person events to identify those who are going to mobilize votes for you in the real world. These events can be trainings, campaign rallies, door-to-door days, phone banks, and more; different events will let you identify supporters with different tastes and talents. In parallel, you will want to promote digital events to take advantage of supporters who can only help you online; this will improve your chances of recruiting more in-person organizers. All of these activities can be organized through Tectonica’s MyActionCenter application, with the added bonus of being able to listen to feedback from your supporters. This will save you hours of explaining tasks, tracking progress, and listening to supporters through less organized methods, like teleconferences or WhatsApp groups.
The last step in translating your online support into success at the ballot is deploying your volunteers to carry out the most effective tasks for turning out voters. This is the step that varies most from country-to-country, which is why we recommend hiring a local expert as part of the process. In some regions, door-to-door campaigning will be the most effective, but in areas with lower levels of trust, you will want to organize activities that will mobilize people to a public space – street protests, rallies with the candidate, parades through key neighborhoods, etc. Depending on the election, you will want to remind the public to vote for your candidate a number of different times; run a digital campaign that instructs your supporters to reach other voters in a variety of ways: message them via private message on WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram; organize a phone bank to call voters; or invite voters to small meetings in their homes to talk about the election, for example. You will always experience some natural growth that is untrackable, but you will not be able to guarantee your victory without knowing which voters you should prioritize reaching. By this point, you should have analyzed the composition of your district; recruited a significant number of volunteers; trained them to use your digital tools; and logged in your NationBuilder database which voters are still open to your candidate and which ones you have already contacted via different mediums. Success at the ballot depends on your volunteers, and also on how many voters they can convince to vote for you AND spread your message.
You will not win your campaign if you make it to Election Day without organizing your digital base of support. If you want to get to the finish line with enough hours of sleep, a personal life, and a winning campaign, we highly recommend that you digitally organize your voters and supporters ahead of time, and Tectonica’s tools are the best in the market for this herculean task.