LinkedIn is a powerful social network for political campaigns. Like other social networks, candidates can get value from sharing and engaging with their network on LinkedIn, but where LinkedIn really shines is data analysis and mining.
From a bird’s eye view, there are more than 61 million users on LinkedIn in the United States all of voting age. The most popular age demographics are ages 35 to 54 (39.9%) and ages 25 to 34 (31.2%).
According to a Consumer Electronics Report, 49% of LinkedIn users have a household income over $100,000. That’s leaps and bounds over Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, you name it! Candidates can raise some serious campaign cash by connecting with and contacting these professionals with significant financial resources.
What’s more powerful than the average numbers, however, is your campaign’s ability to craft precise asks for each fundraising prospect using the intelligence that you can gather from a contact’s profile. Once you open an account and connect with all of the people that you already know by using your email address book and your social graph on other social networks, click on “Advanced” on the top right hand portion of the screen.
On this advanced search screen, you will be able to search through your first order connections and find other possible contributors. Some of the filters to get the best fundraising prospects on LinkedIn that you might consider are:
Location: To start, target the lowest hanging fruit. The people that live in the district that you will represent, are more likely to contribute than others in your network that live far away.
Industry: Depending upon the issues that you are talking about in the campaign, focus on educators, government employees, the financial services industry, or other verticals.
Groups: If you haven’t already joined groups on LinkedIn, be sure to join groups related to the industry in which you work, groups that would be impacted by your campaign, community or religious groups, and alumni associations. For example, connecting with old college buddies, crafting an appropriate fundraising ask based on their profile information, and asking for a contribution to the campaign is really effective if done right.
You just created a profitable and a detailed fundraising list in a few clicks of a mouse! Check out each profile, determine an ask, and if there isn’t a phone number, Google the contact’s current employer and call the general line.
In addition to using strategies similar to fundraising on LinkedIn, there are other tactics to get endorsements on the social network for professionals:
Companies: Click on “Companies” and follow the organizations that you are most interested in getting endorsements from. Use the information that you glean from following the company to effectively make your case to the organization that you deserve the endorsement and to better understand the resources the organization has. If, for example, you were endorsed by an organization who has a talented designer on staff, why not make the ask, albeit unorthodox, to use the designer’s talents to design an upcoming mail piece?
Keyword search: On the advanced search screen, try searching for specific keywords or keyword phrases to find individuals or organizations to reach out to. In conjunction with the keyword search, choose second order, or third if need be, to identify people other than the usual suspects for endorsements. It’s one thing to get an endorsement from your political party or known politicos, it’s quite another to get endorsements from business, civic, and religious leaders who, after connecting with you, are excited about your candidacy in its own right.
Political campaigns can use LinkedIn to get meaningful endorsements and leverage those endorsements in unique ways.
Hiring staff and interns
While there are many affluent professionals on LinkedIn, there is also a large pool of talent looking for work. In addition to going to the traditional political job boards and tapping known local talent, post your campaign job on LinkedIn too.
Don’t stop there; however, use the search functionality to proactively identify possible candidates and direct them to the position announcement on LinkedIn. More often than not, when a campaign is ready to hire someone they are ready to pull the trigger as close to now as is possible! LinkedIn is an excellent tool to help speed along the hiring process while increasing the quality of applicants.
LinkedIn is different
LinkedIn is too often overlooked because it’s so different than other social networks and requires a different approach than Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest because your campaign’s purpose and objectives for LinkedIn are so different than these other social networks. LinkedIn takes some time and effort because you will need a separate strategy to get the most out of the social network for professionals, but the reward is a steady flow of fundraising prospects, endorsements, and quality campaign staff.
This is a guest post from Ben Donahower, experienced campaign operative and LinkedIn power user, who blogs about campaign signs at Campaign Trail Yard Signs.