Everyone in the US knows that 2020 is “election year,” but it’s hard to appreciate just how large a role elections are playing in America this year. What’s more, the role of digital and online media is larger than ever in 2020’s political campaign landscape. National conventions, congressional hearings, and campaign meetings are all conducted virtually, and advertisements, messages, and recordings are being shared online more than ever before.
What this means for those running for office and the groups that support them is that there’s no leeway for the quality and pace of your digital advocacy and campaign content. While online work may have taken a back seat to news media, boots-on-the-ground canvassing, and in-person events in previous years, digital organizing is front and center in 2020.
In this article, I’ll go over the best way to create shareable videos for the political campaign you work for or support, making sure your content doesn’t sacrifice quality, professionalism, output pace, or distinctive styling. Here’s what you should know:
- Use distinctive branding throughout
- Subtitle all your videos
- Tailor your message to its social platform
- Animate your intro & outro
- Hook your viewer early
1. Use distinctive branding throughout
As trite as it may seem, you should think like an advertiser when creating your campaign videos. There are clear differences between commercial ads and political ads, of course, but the importance of branding remains the same.
This has been proven time and time again: from emojis (think of 2020's rose, hat, and wave, for example) and campaign slogans ("I'm With Her"; "Not Me, Us"), to simple colorways (Harris's goldfinch yellow, Warren's robin's-egg blue) the brand of a campaign actually plays a significant role in its public presence. It should play out in your campaign materials, too. Add a simple border to your video, keep your logo in the corner, use the same background music – make your campaign as recognizable as possible.
2. Subtitle all your videos
Accessibility is more than just a talking point. If you want to convince people that you'll work for everyone, then you should make sure you're giving your message to everyone.
There are tons of ways to make your materials (and your platform) more accessible to all audiences, but the simplest method is by adding simple subtitles. Not only does this allow hearing disabled audiences to engage with your videos, but it also increases your online reach with all viewers. For example, about 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound – if you want your message to reach more people, give it to them in writing.
3. Tailor your message to its social platform
To run successful social media promotion for your political campaign, you need to be working on several different platforms and focusing on results. Recent campaign outcomes have proven that social media clout on a few popular sites alone is not nearly enough to build a successful campaign at any level.
But spreading your message out to different social media platforms isn't enough on its own. A campaign video shared on Twitter will likely have different goals than one on Facebook, and the formatting you use for different platforms will be varied, as well. Make sure you know the audience you have on different platforms before creating your content, and ensure that your campaign video's specs are optimized for the platform you're using.
4. Animate your intro & outro
Everyone wants their campaign material to look as professional and polished as possible, but top-level campaign videos can take a lot of money to produce. Custom animated graphics at the beginning or end of your video, for example, can elevate its visual appeal, but the work of highly skilled video editors can come at a high price.
There are plenty of viable free options for animating the graphic elements of your campaign videos, however. If you don't have much experience with animation, I recommend using Kapwing to make professional-looking, sleek animated designs for your campaign videos. Every design element you add to your project can be animated in 6-10 different ways to make your logos, text, shapes, videos, and images pop.
5. Hook your viewer early
The advertisement best practices for most social media sites recommend that you grab your audience's attention in the first few seconds of your video – that's the only part of your content that your audience is guaranteed to see.
There aren't any surefire ways to accomplish this, but you have several tools that you can use to arrest your viewers' attention. Large, flashy graphics are a surefire way to catch the eye of anyone scrolling past, and a direct address to your audience can help grab their attention for the most important part of your message.
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