Municipal Matters: Providing a Voice for Down-Ballot Candidates

It is easy to get caught up in the “big” races. Everyone knows who is running for Senate, governor, or Congress.

But, what about the down-ballot elections?

You know, the people who oversee local school quality, rent costs and affordable housing, and public transit? Those elections affect the everyday lives of people just as much, if not more than the “big-name” elections. Yet, people commonly overlook the significance of these positions. For context, in most major cities fewer than 15% of voters turned out to cast ballots for mayor.

This doesn’t have to be the case — and at BCom, we’re working hard to make sure it’s not. When combined with a proper digital marketing strategy, down-ballot campaigns can, and should, capture the interest of the many as opposed to the few.

What Digital Does for Municipal Elections

Before we dive into what digital marketing does for campaigns, it’s important to understand the capabilities of digital marketing.

Like political candidates, all businesses have a certain target audience they are trying to reach. Digital marketing attracts target audiences through various digital avenues such as display ads, email marketing, mobile technology, and social media. These channels are important because modern consumers use the internet for almost everything.

Here’s what digital does for a campaign. It gives it a voice.

When a candidate chooses to take their campaign online, they tap into a strategy that gives them access to new voters and strategic data – both essential to winning a campaign. By using the right social media channels, candidates can hear what voters are looking for and are able to interact with them at the touch of their fingers. Then by using social media tracking tools and data analytics, candidates can find out who their voter base is.

Digital makes a campaign more accessible. One of the easiest ways to get voters involved is having a strong website. A candidate’s website says a lot about them. It shows where they stand on certain issues, how they interact with the population, and how to get involved in the campaign. Having a well-maintained website is key to gaining respect from constituents. Take BCom’s award-winning work for Omaha mayoral-candidate Heath Mello as an example. Mello’s website served as a hub for all election-related materials. His constituents could learn about Mello’s platforms and how they could get involved in the campaign.

Why Municipal Candidates Need Digital

Right now millennials are becoming the largest proportion of the voting population. In 2016 there were 62 million millennials who were voting-age U.S. citizens.  If we know anything about millennials, digital is the way to their hearts. Traditional marketing tactics don’t register with millennials. A recent Forbes article pointed out 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising techniques. So shouldn’t political campaigns become more digitally based? Capturing the attention of millennials comes from authenticity and being active. Digital serves as the perfect platform to do this. By using a digital platform candidates are able to be open with their audience and speak to them directly. When a campaign is given a digital voice it’s able to connect with more people in more places.

Everyone needs a plan B. One of the beauties of digital is the ability to make changes on the fly. Say a mayoral candidate has been targeting urban voters. However, a data analysis points out there are a significant number of rural voters who are interested in the candidate. Changes to the social media campaign can be re-targeted to grab the attention of the rural voters and continue to keep the urban constituents engaged.

Local government works best when it’s connected. When people share thoughts with their city council or mayors they expect results. In return, candidates want to hear what their constituents are saying. The best way to empower candidates and keep voters in the loop is by working on a platform that they both share. That platform is digital.

It is time to give your campaign a bold and authentic edge.