Digital Distancing During COVID-19

Completely unprecedented in modern times, COVID-19 has spiraled into a global episode, which has forced companies, causes and political campaigns to rethink their plans for the foreseeable future. That’s why BCom is assisting campaigns and companies across the country with rapid-response plans to ensure they have digital tools in place to succeed during upcoming elections and stretch success during a historic period of economic uncertainty.

In so many ways, the global pandemic we are facing is unparalleled by any other crisis in the digital age. In just 30 days, the mentions of “coronavirus,” “COVID-19” and other related terms across media have literally skyrocketed – today hovering around 40 million (and still climbing).

For many business owners, there’s no true equivalent to the service they can provide face-to-face. And those running for office know that no online strategy can fully negate the priceless power of shaking a constituent’s hand. But until the age of elbow bump greetings has been canceled, we are here to show you a way out of the pandemonium.

The Basics

Every business and campaign should have an existing toolkit that makes this period of uncertainty go a little smoother. And if you’re missing something on this list, fix that ASAP.

  • Email platforms will allow you to continue a direct line of communication with voters or patrons. Your email platform is an invaluable mechanism to maintain fundraising, advertising and so much more.
  • SMS platforms are here to rescue you when emails just won’t get the job done. Research is clear that text messages are a more direct way to target audience members and communicate in a 1:1 fashion.
  • Verified Facebook and Google ads are a must. If a large portion of your budget is earmarked for traditional paid media tactics such as the NCAA basketball tournament, there is a silver lining here. You now have a lot left to spend on digital ads – and your dollars will go much further!
  • Websites must be user-friendly and mobile responsive. As the weeks drag on, the socially distant will have rapidly shrinking attention spans. Make sure your landing pages have the ability to capture contact info with minimal effort on the user’s end!

Virtual is Cool

Some good news: It’s 2020, which means any event you were planning to host can still happen – online. That applies to both small meetings and large parties.

Zoom. Facebook Live. Google Hangouts. We’re not here to advertise any one platform, just to shout from the rooftops that these platforms exist. 

Don’t cancel your campaign kickoff. Blast your email list with a webinar link that will allow anyone interested to listen to your stump speech from the comfort of their own coffee table. Encourage advance donations and make sure your audience knows how to access your website and donation portals!

Remember, #ruraliscool – but not everyone who lives there has access to reliable broadband. If your event targets citizens in rural or remote areas, use a platform that will generate a teleconference number – and then send registered participants a recording of the event after it’s over.

Virtual Town Hall and Campaign Events

Zoom webinars are one great way to control the conversation while facilitating feedback and questions from participants. We recommend recruiting at least three people to “staff” each webinar: (1) the candidate to lead the conversation, (2) a co-host to balance out the conversation and (3) a moderator/operator to control the technology from the back end.

Here’s the deal. QR codes are back. We recommend using them in your webinar slide deck to keep listeners engaged and send them to your website or donation portal. Never underestimate the power of real-time fundraising!

Drive-In Events

Unprecedented times filled with stir-crazy socially distant humans are begging for one thing: creativity. And that’s where an idea as crazy as this one was born.

If you have access to a large public outdoor space, consider using livestream technology to give your event a drive-in theme. No one needs to exit the car. If you’re campaigning for elected office, hoist banners with text-to-give information

Not only will the drive-in setup give you an edge on garnering media attention, but the hint of nostalgia from sweeter times gone by will give your attendees the boost they need after being confined to their couches for days.

Online Fundraising Strategies

Tools like Hustle and CallHub make text-to-give and peer-to-peer outreach campaigns simple and easy to kickstart. Anyone who has expressed interest in your events should receive a personalized message complete with a link to contribute to your campaign. Consider partnering with your fellow candidates to host virtual giving days or fundraising competitions.

Staff…Assemble (Online!)

Let’s not forget about an equally important audience: your staff.

Mobilize your crew and help them adapt whenever necessary. Your staff members should be repurposed as leaders for each group or demographic of people to stay in constant communication with your other audiences.

And volunteer efforts needn’t happen under the same roof. Ask the grassroots organizers on your campaign to continue calling and texting voters from the comfort of their own homes. Encourage the use of tools like Outreach Circle and Mobilize America to host virtual events based on topics like health care, education, property taxes, women’s rights – or really anything to distract us from 24-7 corona-coverage.

Social[ly Distant] Media

Go live on social media (notifications for all!) once every day to keep followers engaged and in-the-know on your campaign or business.

Electronic Yard Signs

Produce a filter for your Facebook profile photo and encourage your followers to apply it as well. Create something catchy and visually appealing enough, and it will spread across the profiles of bored social media junkies like wildfire. Candidates? This is your chance to reap all of the name recognition without knocking on a single door.

What it all boils down to is this: Social distance is the smart thing to do right now – but distance is irrelevant in the world of digital! So pour another cup of coffee and get out there. You have so many people to connect with today.

For more information on using digital to bridge the gap of social distance, check out these webinars hosted by BCom CEO and founder Brent Comstock on Facebook for both businesses and political campaigns.