Digital MPs

Improving the impact and effectiveness of campaigns

Digital technology can be used to enhance traditional campaigns by politicians, enabling them to reach more people, more cheaply and more efficiently. We created guidance on how to do this.

Platforms to use as part of a campaign

The Conversation Prism, published by a digital analyst named Brian Solis, is useful for choosing the best platforms to reach your campaign’s objectives. He updates the prism every year to reflect additions and changes.

Here is our list of the most important platforms for MPs, as of summer 2016, each one proven in popularity and sustainability. Users are measured in number of global Monthly Active Users (MAUs).

Facebook (1.65bn users)

Why use it: for anything; it’s the largest social media platform

YouTube (1.3bn users)

Why use it: it's the most popular video platform

WhatsApp (1bn users)

Why use it: for broadcasting messages and discussions

Instagram (500m users)

Why use it: share photos; it can also leverage Facebook’s advertising platform

LinkedIn (433m users)

Why use it: engaging professionals and identifying contacts within an organisation

Twitter (313m users)

Why use it: to break news and have conversations

Google+ (300m users)

Why use it: ensuring good presence in Google search engine results

Reddit (234m users)

Why use it: for sharing links, asking questions

Snapchat (150m users)

Why use it: to reach young people

Pinterest (100m users)

Why use it: for lists and ideas

Quora (100m users)

Why use it: to answer quality questions

Flickr (92m users)

Why use it: a place to share photos

Meetup (24m users)

Why use it: to drive actions offline with local groups

Eventbrite (20m+ users)

Why use it: to manage events seamlessly

Medium (13m+ users)

Why use it: to share blogs

Periscope (1.9m users)

Why use it: for live broadcasts, to leverage Twitter's audience

Campaign objectives

There are generally three main objectives when it comes to digital campaigning: to generate awareness, create engagement and drive action.

Generating awareness in a campaign

To raise awareness of a new candidate up for election, or a newly launched policy campaign, you should:

  • Clearly identify your target audience and create content for them. You can create digital marketing personas using this tool by HubSpot (a marketing automation software company) helps conceptualise your target audience. Use audience analysis tools such as Followerwonk and Facebook Business page Insights.
  • Create a website for your campaign and add as much information as you can. Set up a unique page for different campaigns on your website and always direct traffic to your own web pages (rather than to others’). Include press releases, monthly news, and events. Run your pages through HubSpot’s website grader to get tips on how to make your website better.
  • Collect contact information and use it to target advertising. Set up your campaign’s digital channels to have clear and consistent Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons that allow for email address and personal data capture for future retargeting. Tools such as Sniply add CTA buttons to any link that you share. Then use list targeting and email marketing, for example MailChimp or integrated services provided by NationBuilder to reach the right people.
  • Distribute different content for different platforms. Look beyond Facebook and Twitter for campaigning. Each digital channel and social network requires a different approach - this guide will help you optimise your content for different channels. Use analytics platforms to help you make decisions on the best times to post and the kinds of content that resonate best with your audience.
  • Offer value in exchange for your user’s time. For example, to highlight one of their pledges to cut income tax, the Conservative Party created an interactive income calculator where users could enter their income and see how much money they would save.

Creating engagement

After you have launched a campaign, you will want to keep people engaged. You should:

  • Create spaces for your community to discuss the campaign. Find platforms where your audience already exist, and create your own space for conversations. For example, search for popular local forums on Facebook and post content there, or create a subreddit (a page on Reddit). Use polling tools like doopoll, SurveyMonkey, or Typeform to capture the community’s views.
  • Activate “influencers” to lead on discussions. Strike up partnerships with people with large followers and draft content for them to share across their channels. Buzzsumo is a great tool for finding influencers.
  • Use the snowflake organising model. In his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, President Barack Obama used this snowflake model to decentralise control and directly empower people to create change in their own communities. Appoint digital ambassadors from different communities to lead on online discussion and speech, and allow them to engage their followers along the way.
  • Retarget content. People become aware of something once they develop familiarity with it. Target your audience across multiple digital platforms, including through paid advertising and content promotion, keeping your message consistent. The Conservative Party won over marginal seats in the last election by serving highly targeted digital ads to key voters in marginal seats. They engaged potential voters based on their interests and likes, and used existing internal voter contact data to push out campaign messages.

Driving action

With strong calls to action, you can get people to make change. You should:

  • Use online tools to get people together offline. Use platforms like Meetup and Eventbrite to get people together and collaboration software such as OneDrive or Google Drive to connect spreadsheets with services to live-sync. Share rich media such as photos or videos. YouTube Capture helps you easily edit videos on-the-go. Create simple animated videos with Adobe Spark, a great tool for storytelling.
  • Ask people to take actions at the right time. Asks must be well-timed in order for people to respond. For example, if the chair of your campaign is making an announcement, you could live stream the announcement using Facebook Live then simultaneously send out emails and social media posts to your supporters asking them to donate. Use social media automation tools like IFTTT to schedule content, and a content marketing calendar to organise the timings of your posts across different channels. See examples here.
  • Get your community to pledge their support. Use foot-in-the-door techniques. For example, during elections people are much more likely to turn out to the polls when they make a formal commitment. A simple task such as getting people to pledge their support to your campaign will drive them to take more action towards it. In an election, you could set up a vote pledge splash page on your website and promote it on social channels.


Digital tools allow us to gather data to track performance.

  • Decide on your digital marketing key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are some good examples. Choose KPIs that make the most sense for your campaign objective. For example, track the number of clicks your website link receives if your campaign objective is to raise brand awareness.
  • “A/B test” your messages and calls to action. Do this by creating a “Message A” and “Message B”. Use Message A with a small section of your audience and Message B with another small section. Whichever message works best can be used with the rest of the master list. Most digital marketing platforms have this capability built in.
  • Use Google Analytics and built-in analytics platforms to track the journey of a user and understand their digital behaviours as they navigate your site. Track the analytics within a set time period and constantly compare the performance of your different posts.
  • Use tools to help. Tableau Public to merge data sources, while Canva and Piktochart can be used to create infographics that visualise your analysis of the data. Use Keyhole to track everything related to a hashtag.