Have you stopped and wondered what all the recent headlines about data use in campaigns — for good or bad — mean to a local candidate? Most of the significant numbers tossed around can make digital sound out of reach or at least incomprehensible. It could be tempting to skip using social media and other digital marketing thinking it’s just for the big names and big races.

While the news stories can make it seem that way, it misses out on the best thing about digital marketing — it lets you tell your story the way and when you want it told.  It’s a great tool when used with respect for the individual.  When used responsibly, it’s a great way to build a relationship with your audience. And the biggest benefactor can be the local level candidates.

It is our experience, with both business and political clients, that the highest and most efficient use of digital marketing comes when it is led by a clear strategy.

Here are some of the top reasons we believe you need a defined strategy —

--Define your “Why”
Remember the adage, if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? The same is true for using any marketing — but especially digital because your feedback comes so much quicker. When designing a marketing campaign, knowing your why is the best way to accomplish it.

— Know your audience
it is also essential to understand your audience. Knowing your audience isn’t a new idea. Granted in the wake of the digital revolution, knowing one’s audience goes beyond anything imagined in the past. But it’s still about understanding the preferences of potential voters and how to reach them. With social media, it’s possible to do A/B testing - seeing which version of an ad or other messaging your audience likes better. Perhaps they are more interested and concerned with a particular issue over another. Learning that information with digital means it is within reach of a campaign with a small budget. Digital gives you the quickest and most cost-effective way to learn about the likely voters in your district. It’s agile. You can turn it on a dime, literally.

--Be out in front of your competition; play offense
We’ve said before, and we’ll say it again, digital marketing and specifically social media is here to stay. That horse has left the barn. If you aren’t optimizing digital media, it’s a pretty safe bet your opponent will be looking at the best way to communicate with the voters in the district and they are going to be using social media. You can look professional, organized, and reachable first.

--Optimize your resources
 For many campaigns, it’s possible to conduct outreach through social media for around the cost of a mailing. While a candidate may still choose to do a mailing or postcard, a defined digital strategy can support and strengthen traditional marketing efforts and avoid duplication or waste.

--Analytics readily available
While it’s hard to limit the benefits of using digital to just one thing, the near instantaneous and specific feedback that comes from using digital is hard to beat. When combined with knowing your objective and your audience, explicitly knowing your latest communication was more exciting or engaging based on actual responses, well that’s what we call gold. It then makes more sense to use that information to build a better relationship with thosesupporters based on that knowledge. The next step, of course, is using the information to make the next outreach effort even more useful. This kind of specific feedback doesn't exist in traditional media.

Those five reasons are just a surface peek into the benefits of incorporating digital and social media into a strategy of running for elected office, and it is well within reach of the local candidates.

If you want to learn more about using digital marketing as a critical part of your campaign strategy, contact cyberclimb.kristi@gmail.com or cyberclimb.joy@gmail.com or check our website at www.cyberclimb.com to explore the possibilities. The first strategy session is free.