Get Out the Vote with social media
04/06/2012

While traditional political ads clamor for attention on television and radio, social media has revolutionized the way candidates market themselves to voters. Information can be more timely, messages can be targeted to specific groups of people and response to negative press is immediate.

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) is about more than encouraging people to show up on Nov. 6 to help determine who the next leader of the United States will be. A GOTV campaign should educate voters about who the candidates are and where they stand on those issues of greatest importance to their businesses, families and wallets. With nine open Senate seats, 35 open House seats, an uncertain Republican presidential field and redistricting affecting political activity at all levels, the political landscape is changing rapidly with new twists and turns almost daily. Social media can help you stay informed about the candidates and better educate your employees about their records and campaigns. Find your legislators and get connected to their social media outlets by going to the Government Affairs page at ARArental.org and clicking on “National, State and Local Representatives.”

Given the prevalence of social media as a communication device, relying solely on traditional print media as a means of disseminating information is no longer the only way to promote GOTV. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be useful tools for your own GOTV campaign.

Social media sites can be used to send out information such as:

  • Redistricting updates.
  • Countdown clock to election day.
  • Voting deadlines and reminders.
  • Election outcomes.

Before deciding to use social media for GOTV, consider the following:

  • Social media is about immediacy, so be sure you have a dedicated staff person who can commit time and effort regularly to keeping your site up to date.
  • Posts need to be timely and relevant in order to gather and retain fans and followers.
  • To maximize the effectiveness of your social media site, the person in charge of your page should be well-versed in the outlet you choose and aware of your expectations and goals for the site.

If your store has a Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media outlet already, consider using it to promote GOTV as well. You also can create an outlet expressly for GOTV. Keep in mind that social media is communication that invites conversation with a large public audience. Using it as an outlet for communicating voting dates and requirements is ideal, but posting candidate information can lead to heated debate on your store’s site and is not recommended.

Alysia Ryan is director of state government affairs for the American Rental Association (ARA), Moline, Ill. She can be reached at 800-334-2177, ext. 271, or email alysia.ryan@ararental.org.