In the wake of Ted Cruz’s win in Texas’ run-off, pundits and politicos alike have begun to attribute the campaign’s dedication to social media as one key to their “grassroots victory.” Inevitably, the remaining candidates of the season will try to learn from their achievements and strive to “do what Ted Cruz did online” – similar to the way those same people said “Let’s learn from what Barack Obama did online” in the aftermath after the 2008 campaign cycle.
Inspiration from this type of victory spreads like wildfire and harnessing that energy to accomplish a campaign’s goals is critical. However, commitment to the digital and online sphere shouldn’t be an afterthought. We’ve seen for almost 15 years how powerful a strong digital strategy can be for campaigns of every size and reach. For those looking to find similar success, tips and tricks alone won’t win your election, but a solid commitment across your online presence will deliver results.
Having a plan and a commitment to building the strongest possible foundation for your campaign still remains the most certain way to achieve victory.
The takeaway from the Cruz victory is a simple lesson — anything that’s being done on the ground must be reflected digitally. In modern campaigns, your offline efforts are only reaching their full potential if they have active online components. With 955 million monthly active users on Facebook, there is arguably no larger, more organized or targetable database in which to reach voters, which Ted Cruz discovered while assembling his win.
Use caution — not everyone who claims to be a social media consultant is a social media consultant. You must enlist a trusted team of digital experts, who know how these strategies work to activate and motivate your electorate.
Experience with social media may not be measured in walk sheets, door knocks or phone bank results, but experienced digital political operatives know how to translate online success into the traditional benchmarks campaigns are accustom to seeing. We measure victory in likes, shares, visits to your website, dollars raised, eyes on your issues pages and attendees at your rallies, just to name a few.
Achieving online success isn’t formulaic or accomplished overnight, but the code can be cracked for your race, your campaign or your organization. Just like advertising dollars spent in the last 72 hours on television commercials or boxes of collateral purchased for your army of volunteers, a campaign’s commitment to digital and social media from the start is an absolute requirement for success.