There are 76.9 million Americans on Twitter. More than half of users get their news on Twitter, more than any other platform. It is also a much younger audience than Facebook with 42% of Twitter users fitting into the 18 to 29 age group. About a third of Americans on Twitter have a college degree. Below are a few fun statistics from Pew Research’s 2021 survey of US adults on Twitter.
Of all the groups on Twitter that are relevant to your campaign, reporters are the ones following most closely. There’s a perceived viability when a candidate has a consistent, polished Twitter presence.
- Talk about current events (especially ones that are relevant to the office you seek)
- Speak on local issues that your local press corps are otherwise following
- Talk about the things you and your campaign are doing out in the community
- Did you host a Meet and Greet? Go on a small business tour? Make sure you’re showing those things to your digital audience.
Remember: everything you tweet is public, on the record, and newsworthy. Be cognizant of the weight your words carry.
Raise money on Twitter. It costs you nothing and if you do it well, it can make a meaningful difference to your budget. Did you tweet something that gained some traction? Make sure that donation link is in the replies. You’re in the digital version of a large auditorium with a microphone. People are resonating with your message. There’s no better time to ask for help getting that message out. You’ve done the hard work of getting people’s attention; use it.
Similar to the above, Twitter can be a valuable organizing tool when used effectively. Make asks of your followers; not in every tweet, but always make regular calls to action to the folks who are engaging with you online. And, while you’re at it, make it a hard ask:
- Use strong language
- Give people a reason to mobilize
- Offer a clear and specific next step
Also, take it to the replies. When people offer support, give them a way to channel that support into action.
Setting up an account
Writing a bio
Don’t overthink it. Your twitter bio should tell people the quickest (160 characters or less) version of who you are and what you’re running for. Some example things to include:
- Current/former offices held
- Prior experience
- [Local sports team] fan
- Where you’re from
Put together this might look like, “Teacher. Mother. Pawnee born and raised. Running for Pawnee Council.”
Who to follow
Who you follow on Twitter affects the content you see and who sees your content. In order to capture a complete picture of your district, here’s some groups to follow:
- Elected officials and candidates who cover your district or adjacent districts
- Reporters in your media market
- Include some national reporters too
- Activists, community leaders, and other prominent folks in your district
Start small and work your way up. It’s easy to add, harder to prune. Stick to people who are relevant to your race and the issues you care about.
Building a following
The number of followers is not what matters here; an engaged following is the goal. You want your followers to retweet, comment, click links, etc. Some tips below to maximize engagement:
- Retweet, quote tweet, and otherwise participate in conversations that your followers are already paying attention to
- Tweet consistently
- Include pictures, videos, and gifs that catch the eye
Every tweet should have a purpose. That purpose will vary between tweets and, of course, some are a little more directly linked to your overall campaign goals. We can put these goals in a few different boxes:
Voters want to know they’re electing someone who is more than “just another politician”. They want to support someone who is like them; a person who cares for their family, likes the local sports team, and lives for that one burger from that one spot. Use holidays and other important dates to talk about your lived experience. Don’t just wish your following a “happy Mother’s Day”, but include a picture of your mom, wife, kids, etc and a quick thought on what they mean to you. Show your personality. Do you play an instrument, follow a sports team, have a cute dog? You can use these types of posts to show your values without stating them outright.
Engagement, engagement, engagement. If you’re shouting into the void, you’re not accomplishing anything. You may not always get the donation or the volunteer, but making the ask shows that your campaign is active and you’re working hard.
A great time to make an ask is when you have a tweet that goes viral. Hop in there and leave your donation link in the comments so followers have an easy way to support you while you have their attention.
Show your vision for your community
Notice it says show and not tell. No one is looking for a position paper. Talk about local issues and offer your insight. Highlight a local business and talk about what you’ll do to keep them successful. Chronicle your children’s first day of school and what your education priorities are. This doesn’t need to be the biggest piece of what you tweet, but find ways to connect your experience with issues.
Present your campaign to voters and reporters
You’re working hard and you should talk about it. Show pictures and videos; tag people and businesses you meet. Show voters about how you’ll interact with your community if they elect you and show reporters that you have genuine, grassroots support.
You want to check all of these boxes. The best way to accomplish this is through a message calendar. Start with holidays, important voting-related dates, fundraising deadlines, sports games, campaign events, and other things that have specific dates attached and build from there.
Disclaimer: this entire document is subject to change based on the whims of a mercurial billionaire.
- Use hashtags- it boosts your engagement and increases the chance you’ll get retweeted
- Don’t overuse hashtags- 1-2 is plenty
- Use media- pictures, videos, and gifs can increase engagement and bring some life to your words
- Do fundraise, but don’t show your fundraisers- all the reasons to fundraise and document your campaign on Twitter can be found above. Fundraisers, call time, and donor meetings are all necessary pieces of a successful campaign, but voters don’t want to know about the time you spend fundraising; they want to know about the time you spend in your community
- Tweet like you talk- keep it casual and conversational
- Use humor- don’t take this as a cue to become a laugh factory, but the occasional, well-placed joke goes a long way to humanizing you
- Pay attention to (relevant) trends- show you’re informed and be part of the conversation that’s already happening
- Use threads- if you’re particularly knowledgeable or passionate about a topic, use threads to share longer messages. Even though brevity is key and was integral to Twitter’s uniqueness, a lot of people want deeper dives into a topic. Threads can convey more information in a succinct way. Even as the character limit has increased, threads are still widely used.
And, most importantly, don’t forget to get offline! A strong social media campaign is helpful, but barring some significant extenuating circumstances, it’s not going to solely decide your fate. The most important parts of your campaign happen offline.