Reading time: 11 minutes

How to Get Out The Vote with Social Media

Published: Oct 23, 2018

People, on an average, spend at least two hours per day on social media. So it clearly serves as a valuable and impactful platform to share your campaign messages with a diverse audience.

With a well-crafted post or tweet, you can easily focus the spotlight on your get out the vote efforts.

Social media can be used effectively to reach people, target particular voters, motivate people to exercise their franchise, make your cause go viral, and much more.

In this article, I’ve put down 8 strategies you can use to get out the vote using social media.

Use Social Media To Reach Youth

Social media is the place for consuming political news and knowledge for the majority of young people. It is where they discuss politics and feel like their most civic selves. Hence, social media being the source of political dialogue is the perfect platform to engage potential voters and turn them into committed voters.

One of the best ways to get out the vote among young voters is to add call-to-action buttons to all your post on social channels, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. This works wonders and boosts voter turnout simply because it is convenient. The goal of the call-to-action is to increase the ease of taking a particular action, while also reminding young voters of their duty, by engaging with them on social media platforms.

Start A Photo Campaign

A photo campaign is one of the easiest and most creative ways to spread the word and get out the vote. It’s also a great way to recruit supporters. All you have to do is pick a high traffic area like a college campus, set up a booth, and get people to visit it.

Once you have people at your booth, ask them to show their support by writing why they think their vote matters. For example, their reasons could be could be scope for paid sick leave or more affordable housing. After which take a photo of the person holding the message and post it on your social media networks. Tag people and encourage people to share it. This way you can create voter awareness and get them to hit the polls.

Twitter To Get Out The Vote

Twitter can be an effective way to share your get out the vote messages to educate and encourage eligible voters. With a word limit of 280, it encourages political candidates and campaigns or organizations through concise messages to get supporters off the couch and to the polls.

For example, The Labour Party used Twitter to translate their online support into votes on election day. They launched a First View campaign to make sure that their call to action stood out among all polling day conversations. This meant that as people went to vote, their video would be the first promoted Tweet all UK users saw on polling day, and its hashtag ‎#VoteLabour would remain at the top of the day’s UK trends. The party shared a simple message with its video, featuring hashtag and linking to a polling station finder on its website. As soon as the polls were closed, it changed its First View Tweet to a thank-you message.

Effect Of Facebook Messages

Right before the internet, campaigns would mail postcards to people which mentioned that their voting records and participation in elections were public information. This kind of a social pressure message would persuade people into voting. Katherine Haenschen, a political analyst, found that similar social pressure messaging tactics can be used on Facebook to persuade people to hit the polls.

By posting “get out the vote” status updates with a social pressure element like shame, and tagging friends increased turnout by 24%. The post acts as a message shaming friends for not voting or participating in electoral processes. The study also found that pride messages, praising people for voting or committing to vote, worked better than reminders and increase turnout by 16%. What you could do is identify reluctant voters in your social circle and tag them in a Facebook post praising them for voting or shaming them for not in the past and reminding them you’ll know if they skipped the election this time around.

Use YouTube To Drive People To The Polls

YouTube serves as a powerful platform for spreading campaign content to supporters and for convincing undecided voters. As the platform easily integrates with other social channels it makes it easier for you to spread your videos to a wider audience. By making videos related to the campaign and specifying the candidate’s issues and stances, YouTube makes it easy to interact with voters. Your main goal should be to engage people in conversations, so add a strong call to action to get people to take a particular action.

For example, right before the 2016 elections, YouTube partnered with celebrities and famous YouTubers to create empowering messages and increase voter turnout. First, YouTube released short videos, of celebrities who filmed themselves doing anything they wanted for 1 minute and 34 seconds, the average time to register to vote, while your viewers register to vote. Next, to create FOMO they posted #voteIRL selfie with 43 Youtubers pledging to vote. And on election day to keep the momentum going, YouTube posted a self-recorded video of Obama encouraging citizens to take action by voting.

Promote Campaign Material On Social Media

Promoting campaign material like t-shirts, posters, articles, or videos, on social media is one of the easiest ways to build a cordial relationship with voters. Analyze where your target audience is and get on that social channel to engage with them, help with registration, and motivate them to pledge to vote.

Post your campaign material with a strong call to action directing people to visit your website or helping them find the polling location. The idea behind this is that just telling people to vote is not enough— you also need to justify why they need to do so. Promoting posters, flyers, or videos stating why voting is important and how it would benefit people will encourage people to take action. You could make catchy posters with slogans like, “If you don’t vote you’re essentially invisible” or “Don’t vote unless you care about the future of the cause you support” to prompt people to take action. Remember to use bold, eye-catching colors and a font style that stands out.

Microtargeting Through Online Ads

As voters spend more and more time on social media, assigning volunteers to knock doors and make phone calls won’t be enough. Online display ads which are mobile friendly will help you fill in crucial gaps.

You need to micro-target the ads based on various demographic segments, like gender, age, party affinity, and voting history. You can also target the ads to reach people from a specific district or town. Monitor the performance of the display ads and alter the message phrasing if need be. The key benefit is that you can virtually eliminate wasted impression by only targeting a specific set of voters.

Social Media To Bring Peer Pressure To GOTV

Likes and shares on social media are not votes, but with a good strategy, you can convert some of it into real ballots through peer pressure. By asking people publically to commit to vote, you place pressure on the voter to follow through. This will have ripple effects on their network as well because if your friends are doing something you’re likely to do it as well.

You can create static videos, ads, or posters with your get out the vote message and share it on your social profiles. You can also reward people who’ve committed to vote with a badge or sticker which they can post on their profile. This would act as an incentive and sends a signal to the voter’s friends. You can use a service like Twibbon to make it easy for voters to add a badge or sticker to their profile picture on facebook or twitter.

Social media is an irreplaceable part of your get out the vote strategy. It can be tricky to deal with but is highly effective. Use the aforementioned strategies to hype up voters, show your campaign’s momentum, and what your candidate stands for.


Enjoying my work? Share this article!