More than ever, social media is playing a major role in the way presidential candidates reach voters. Live-tweeting debates has become the norm, candidates have developed strong social media presences, and their Twitter antics are constantly making headlines. But creating conversation is just one of many values social networks bring to the campaign table. 2016 presidential candidates are able to use Twitter as a tool to fundraise for the first time in election history, which has major implications about the best way to target today’s potential donors.
Twitter donate buttons work by allowing candidates to tweet links to approved Square accounts or $Cashtags, which automatically produce “donate now” buttons along with the tweet. Consumers can then click the button, which takes them to a page with payment options. Donors will then have the option to send a tweet about their donation when the process is complete.
Social fundraising has been a key tool for the 2016 presidential candidates, but its usefulness spans a much larger group. Politicians at all levels and nonprofit organizations can use this tool to engage more supporters and raise more money. Twitter’s new political donate feature is unique because it allows political candidates and nonprofit organizations to achieve the following:
Generate donations in real time. With these easy-to-use donate buttons, candidates can raise money quickly and in real-time during debates and other large-scale events. Those who are most likely to make a donation are probably also paying attention to breaking news, current issues or live events. So as important news unfolds, it’s easy to send a tweet soliciting donations from your biggest supporters on a platform they’re already engaged with.
Additionally, the tool makes it easy for supporters to make donations quickly. People are known to lose interest if they have to switch sites and click through multiple pages to make the donation. Twitter simplifies this process tremendously, which is crucial in an age where attention spans continue to shrink at an alarming rate.
Target known donors. Twitter is a great way to target high-potential donors because each individual donation is tied to a unique Twitter profile. Using these insights, candidates can better reach individuals who have previously donated and are likely to do so again.
If it’s known that someone has donated in the past, campaigns can target him or her with more personalized Twitter content—whether it’s a mention or direct message. Additionally, the campaign could use what they know about this donor and target them across other channels. Perhaps, based on their profile, the campaign knows that they are a strong supporter of certain social issues. The campaign could then target them with emails containing specific messaging about these issues.
Develop campaign advocates. People are far more likely to share their donation news with friends and family on a social platform than a recent clothing or electronic purchase. In fact, a New York Times study found that 84 percent of consumers share content on social media to show support for a cause or issue they care about.
The Twitter donate feature makes it simple for donors to share their support by automatically generating tweets for them to post once they’ve made a donation. This is a great way to generate grassroots support. When a donor shares a post about her support for a campaign, that message is received by hundreds of her closest family and friends. Consumers inherently trust content from their peers more than anything generated directly by a political candidate.
So as we head into the 2016 presidential primary season, all political campaigns and nonprofit organizations should pay attention to how this year’s candidates are using Twitter to raise money. The new political donation button makes it easier than ever for campaigns to reach the right voters in real time and improve fundraising efforts.
Readers: Have you donated to a political campaign via Twitter?
Gretchen Littlefield is the president of Infogroup Media Solutions