A Campaign Manager’s Social Media Strategies

Taylor Griffin

With the 2016 Presidential Election in full swing, social media strategies continue to drive Trump and Hillary’s campaigns. Campaign managers are skilled at planning and reacting to the political climate with this influential tool.

Taylor Griffin – a former White House staffer in the Bush/Cheney Administration – and current political communications consultant in the private sector has graciously agreed to share his social media strategies with the Tampa Bay AMA.

  1. Use Social Media as a Force Multiplier

We primarily view social media as a force multiplier to augment our broader campaign messaging efforts on TV. Taking a wide-reaching broadcast message and distributing it across multiple social media platforms maximizes the impact.

With Trump being the exception, political candidates often win elections by utilizing TV in tandem with social media amplification. Trump’s success with social media – specifically Twitter – has changed the game by allowing him to bypass traditional advertising and comment or reply to constituents, the press and opponents in real time.

Strategy #1: Social media can amplify messages of broader reaching media, such as TV.  If a brand has broad awareness, lowering investments in traditional media could be considered.

  1. Compelling Content = Relationship Building

Throughout a campaign, we are building a relationship with our constituents through social media. Content expands their knowledge of a candidate in a more personal way by building on broader messages. It can build familiarity, much like a Meet and Greet event, but delivers a wider audience at a lower cost.

Strategy #2: Look at social media as a one-to-one interaction, even if you have a large following. Are you marketing or building a relationship?

  1. Winning Combination: Immediacy, Context, and Knowing Your Opponent

We watch news events closely and prepare carefully crafted messages. The clock starts ticking the second news breaks and relevancy will be lost rapidly, so candidates must respond promptly to be relevant. Campaign managers quickly gauge a sense of public opinion, their opponents’ stance, and then respond on the fly. A well strategized social media post can powerfully resonate in this compelling context, unique to social media.

Strategy #3: If you apply this approach, what conversations on social media should your brand be a part of?  Are you responding in real time to maximize relevancy?  Are you prepared or are you scrambling?

  1. Optimize Target Audience Segmentation and Testing

In a campaign, polls tell us who our most likely supporters are and the messages that resonate with them. The voter history clearly identifies frequent voters and enables geographic targeting. With social media’s ability to target and segment, we can leverage these two research tools in our Facebook advertising. We can develop an electronic profile of voters with a particular set of interests and whether they are base loyalists or swing voters. We can test messages and determine their effectiveness through SM analytics and adjust as needed.  Social Media can serve as an efficient tool to drill down on our targeted voter after a mass marketing campaign.

Strategy #4: Take full advantage of the targeting and testing ability provided by social media platforms.

  1. Converting a Troll/Maximizing Influencers

Posting on Facebook has driven hands-on engagement of both fans and critics of political candidates, especially critics. Among loyal supporters are people who began as trolls but are impressed by a candidate’s willingness to engage them. Influencers are important, as well.  They can engage positively and share political messages with like-minded friends. Social media has given supporters new ways to engage and act as force multipliers for the campaigns efforts.

Strategy #5: Fans and non-fans are equally important in social media efforts.  Both can serve as force multipliers.

Griffin’s social media strategies highlight the need for determining the role of social media in a marketing initiative and looking at platforms as ways to connect on a one-to-one basis.  Looking to 2020, Taylor forecasts that social media will become as much a research project as communications avenue for political campaigns. From this data-driven research,  campaign managers will continue to effectively build constituency relationships.


Kathleen Rogers

Kathleen Rogers has a passion for research-driven content writing and has always been inspired by creative thinking.   Recently, she explored her source of inspiration by completing a second degree from USF’s Art History program.  A notable highlight from the start of Kathleen’s career, she was trained at the award winning creative shop Cliff Freeman & Partners, a subsidiary of Saatchi and Saatchi Global.