Three Ways to Use Online Video in Your Campaign

Candidates, Take Advantage of the Power of Video

Online video has become a very powerful tool for personal voter communication. Social media channels and YouTube provide an opportunity for vastly different and personal messages – they aren’t just for re-posting your TV ads. Being able to quickly post small updates from the campaign trail, more polished appeals and more gives candidates many ways to communicate with diverse sets of target audiences.

Some recent examples I’ve seen include a video message from Bernie Sanders to the delegates at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention this last weekend (which perhaps had an influence on his strong showing in the straw poll at the event) and Martha Laning’s wide use of video blogging to promote her successful campaign for State Chair.

Here are three ways candidates can use online video today to increase engagement and participation in their campaigns.

1. Tell a Longer Story than Possible with TV

Let’s face it – TV time is expensive. For many local and county level campaigns, it may not even be necessary – but video can be useful for campaigns of all sizes, and perhaps even more for smaller campaigns. Look at the example of Martha Laning I mentioned above.

Her campaign was only targeted to around 1,400 delegates to a state convention. By posting longer-form video on YouTube, Facebook and her blog, she was able to tell a story with emotional appeal and at a length of her choosing. Laning’s video below comes in at a little over three minutes in length, far more than would be possible with a TV buy. With a small campaign with an interested audience like this one, you can predict that at least some portion of your target audience is going to find your video by actively searching for it on your social channels or video sites.

2. Send Informal Updates from the Campaign Trail

Use  video to bring supporters into the campaign itself, make it more personable and humanize your candidate, staff and supporters. In short, informal videos can make the campaign more “real” for your audience. Here’s an example of a fairly informal video produced for Austin Mayor Steve Adler at his campaign kickoff, featuring some community activists and other prominent figures who explain why they support Steve’s campaign. Video length can be whatever is necessary (but not too long!), and they do not need to always feature supporters. Simple videos with staff or just the candidate are also effective.

3. Welcome Messages, Fundraising Pitches and Personal Messages

Video can absolutely increase the effectiveness of something that all campaigns do, which is the push towards showing support at fundraising deadlines. A short video from the candidate adds much more emotion to what is often a dry affair – asking for money. Make it personal with a direct appeal. Short video messages are very effective for all kinds of motivational messages, not just fundraising. Below is an example from my friend, State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (Texas House District 51), supporting an Austin campaign for affordable housing bonds.

Keep it Spontaneous and Genuine

A major advantage of online video is that it doesn’t need to be as polished or “slick” as a television ad. In fact, doing so often reduces the authentic feel. Don’t over-produce your videos, make them feel friendly, honest and approachable. Again, social channels and video sites are far more than ways to extend the reach of your TV buys. Get creative and use them to deliver innovative campaign content.

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