Campaign to Re-elect Dianne Hamilton
In the summer of 2012, New Mexico State Representative Dianne Hamilton of Silver City, NM announced her 8th run for the District 38 state legislature seat. In an effort to improve online communications and community building with a new generation of voters, Vox Optima was brought in to consult and support website development, social media strategy and management, video production and general communication support for her re-election campaign. As a seasoned candidate, Rep. Hamilton and her campaign team were interested in expanding the candidate’s messaging efforts to:
- Reach a wider spectrum of district and statewide audiences
- Create a system for effective constituency engagement
- Establish a system to monitor news reports and public sentiment
- Develop a set of procedures to respond to news and crisis management events
- Increase her online visibility and improve search results for her name and legislative positions
As a rural legislative election for a district with about 11,000 voters, a significant challenge for this project was the limited resources available to the campaign. Available funds were needed for advertising and printing costs. And a $2,300 cap for in-kind donations during the primary and another cap during the general election limited the support Vox Optima could offer. Additionally, there were campaign staff learning curves to overcome on social media strategies and benefits.
Additionally, District 38 encompasses hundreds of square miles. The next largest town after Silver City, Truth or Consequences, is more than 100 miles from Rep. Hamilton’s home. A major goal for the social media campaign was to increase Rep. Hamilton’s visibility across the geographically large district.
Vox Optima campaign planners and social media specialists began working with the campaign management to develop a cost friendly but effective system to help the campaign create the social profiles appropriate for the candidate as well as a content management system, online monitoring tools, a new campaign website and training on how to manage them all.
Website. Supervised by the Vox Optima issues management and campaign planning team leader, our web specialist began converting existing campaign content into a new WordPress-based website designed to promote campaign messaging, candidate history and information, campaign contact information and offer secure, online campaign donations.
Social Media and Video Production. At the same time, Vox Optima’s social media specialist began work on social networking profiles and aligning them with the candidate’s message. Working under the requirements of campaign management, Vox Optima arranged for the deletion of an abandoned Facebook Page and recreated it with better, more secure admin protocols. For Facebook the basic strategy included:
- Video messaging for the candidate to include tagging the content, promoting shares with advocacy groups and influencers
- Created multiple video vignettes with the candidate discussing campaign issues, policy stands, etc.
- Photo uploads with tagging of key influencers and promoting shares
- At least daily policy posts or candidate insights on hot-button or newsworthy issues related to her campaign and/or platform
- Promoting campaign appearances via Facebook events
- Building followers and advocacy community
- Timely responses to constituency comments and opinions
- Close monitoring of Facebook Insights and content management system reporting tools to gauge Facebook program and messaging effectiveness
The approach for LinkedIn was different as the network appealed to a narrower audience focused on business. Campaign content was re-purposed to highlight the candidate’s stands on promoting small business in New Mexico, advocating for greater support for veteran-owned business, and reducing government impact on free market business development.
In addition to regular posts that commented on state small business issues and practices, candidate appearances were promoting with LinkedIn’s event feature, advocacy and influence building strategies were implemented to improve the candidate standing in her district’s business community.
The campaign managers also requested a candidate Twitter account to supplement the activity on LinkedIn and Facebook. With this undertaking the social media team established the account with an optimized profile. In addition to supporting campaign messaging, the team developed Twitter lists of key state and district news outlets, key government policy makers and influence and advocacy groups to assist the campaign in assessing public opinion and attitudes toward the entire spectrum of political issues that might affect the campaign strategy.
Monitoring. Given the limited budget available to the campaign, Vox Optima needed to develop a system that would provide as much insight and reporting as possible. To help support the campaign’s needs, Vox Optima created a monitoring system that included:
- Regular Facebook Insights and Social Mention reports
- Frequent visits to Addict-o-matic to check reach
- Google Alerts focusing on campaign-specific keywords and phrases
- Twitter lists of influencers, policymakers, news outlets etc.
- Hootsuite monitoring and activity reports
- WordPress website analytics reporting
Because of Vox Optima’s aggressive social media, video production and website efforts, the candidate saw her base audience solidify as well as a significant upturn in name recognition in new audiences – especially younger voters. Vox Optima’s proactive approach and consultation gave the candidate a significant lead over her opponent throughout the campaign and subsequent victory in the polls. And using the training on strategies and practices, as well as continued consultation with Vox Optima, Rep. Hamilton was one very few state legislators to overcome a serious PR crisis that arose around a poorly drafted bill submitted by another legislator.
Through immediate and active discussions online, encouraging conversation with supporters and critics, and maintaining dialogue when other legislators simply went silent, Rep. Hamilton was able to maintain a positive standing in the public eye and turn the incident to her advantage by calling for immediate action by the legislation’s authors for a better, common-sense approach law.