How to Maintain a Strong Digital Presence on the Campaign Trail

You'll find the young voters on Snapchat and Instagram.

When should I start?What should I do first?What social media platforms should I be on?How do I deal with a social media fail?

Mariah Craven and Betsy Hoover know about digital strategy—just ask their ex-bosses. Craven, a consultant for the Sea Change Leadership PAC, oversaw digital strategy for Senator Kamala Harris’ campaign, and Hoover, a founding partner of 270 Strategies, was director of digital organizing for the 2012 Obama for America campaign. Here, the two share their advice on how to nail the social media game from start to finish.

When should I start?

ASAP. “Make it part of initial thinking,” Hoover says. “At your campaign launch, you want to have a website and a social media presence.” That’s where most voters will get to know you for the first time, she explains. But no need to overthink it: “Your website can be simple on day one, just make sure there is a place where people can sign up to join your email list and donate.”

What should I do first?

Tap into your email inbox. Don’t think of your contacts list as just family, friends, and coworkers—it’s your network of supporters. “Put them in a spreadsheet or start a small MailChimp account,” Craven says. “Get those names and e-mails together as soon as possible, so when you need folks to do something, spread word about your announcement, or help you fundraise, you already have that in place.”


Finger, Skin, Mobile phone, Electronic device, Communication Device, Portable communications device, Gadget, Smartphone, Telephony, Technology,

(Image credit: John Picklap)

What social media platforms should I be on?

It depends on your target demographic. “Almost every voter is on Facebook, so you should have a presence there,” Hoover says. “Twitter tends to be a little more of your influencer class—think reporters, communities, etc.—so it’s a great way to get messaging out. With Snapchat and Instagram, you get into younger voters.”

How do I deal with a social media fail?

Have a game plan. Discuss the possible online errors that can be made as a team before anything actually happens, Hoover says. That way, you can skip panic mode and go straight into crisis management. “Being able to move quickly and clearly is the most important thing,” she adds.

This article is part of our "Women Running for Office" series, which originally appeared in Marie Claire's November 2017 issue, on newsstands October 17. To view the full package, click here.

Kayla Webley Adler

Kayla Webley Adler is the Deputy Editor of ELLE magazine. She edits cover stories, profiles, and narrative features on politics, culture, crime, and social trends. Previously, she worked as the Features Director at Marie Claire magazine and as a Staff Writer at TIME magazine.