Social Media Canvass

August 31, 2010

Time to Take Canvassing to the Internet Age

Ask campaign managers what the lifeblood of a campaign is and most will tell you the same thing – the field operation.

Campaigns from city council to President rely on robust field operations to generate enthusiasm and drive voters to the polls. But in addition to spending hours scouring precincts on foot, the time has come for campaigns to begin canvassing over the Web.

The idea is simple and virtually cost free. Set a date and time when your campaign staffers and volunteers take to their computers. The goal is to “knock” on as many of their friend’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and e-mails as possible, encouraging them to follow the candidate and join the movement.

  • Include a welcome message from the candidate that supporters can forward to their e-mail contacts
  • Disperse an online petition regarding a hot-button national or local issue
  • Set a target of how many virtual knocks your campaign makes in a day

Constituents will certainly respond to solicitations from their friends regarding a specific candidate. The night before the election, volunteers can send their friends a reminder over the Web to ensure they vote.

While some may say this would only attract younger voters, social networking has grown tremendously among internet users of all ages.  According to this Pew report, social networking by internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88% in the last year, equaling 47% of all internet users in that age bracket. And 20% use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% last year – meaning a virtual canvass would have a positive impact on supporters of all ages.

Many campaigns are effectively using social media this election cycle, with candidates garnering thousands – if not tens of thousands – of supporters well before Labor Day. By putting that virtual army to work, campaigns can grow their supporter base exponentially, while generating enthusiasm among volunteers.

The time has come for candidates to knock on as many computers as possible.