Getting Students to Vote for You

Every year, we see students come up with new and fantastic ideas on how to communicate with students across campus. Campaigning during the election gives you a better chance of getting students to vote for you, as well as allowing you to meet people and develop new skills.

Campaigning doesn’t mean you have to wear t-shirts and hand out flyers on campus. It is more important that you just get your message out there, either in person in your lectures or perhaps online or by email.

Telling your classmates why you are a candidate, what you’d do if you got elected and why you would like them to vote for you is going to give you a good chance at getting elected. And make sure you vote for yourself!

Why do students vote?

Before you start thinking about how to campaign or any great materials you want to put out, it is important to consider why students vote in the first place. This means you can tailor your messages to them.

Why might students vote? These are some of the reasons students have shared with us in the past:

  • Want to engage in democracy
  • Liked someone’s manifesto
  • Thought someone was the best person for the job
  • Stop people nagging them
  • Because people seem nice
  • Friend asked them to
  • Saw a video online
  • Someone spoke to them

Building a campaign team

You might be able to do this on your own, but it will be a lot easier if you have some friends to help you! This is known as your ‘campaign team’.

Who can help you?

  • HIGH COMMITMENT
    Will help you edit a video or design you a poster and will message all their friends
  • LOW COMMITMENT
    Share an Insta post to their story

If you manage your expectations then you won’t ask too much of people and they’re more likely to help!

Tools for online campaigning

Videos

  • The first 3 seconds are the most important
  • Most people watch videos on their phone (square videos)
  • Suggest they tap for sound
  • Remember to subtitle your videos
    • It makes it accessible for everyone
    • Those who are watching with no sound still get the content
  • Upload it to the platform you are using it on (e.g. not a link to YouTube)
  • Give it a good title

Making sure the most people see it

It’s not all about the amount of followers you have – so don’t panic!

Sponsored posts

You can use your campaign budget for this (make sure you screenshot the spend or save the receipt email and include it on your expenses)

  • Reach people who you wouldn’t reach organically
  • Isn’t expensive
  • Find a post that is already doing well and boost it (you know people like that content!)
  • If a sponsored post isn’t doing very well, just take it down

Hashtags

#RUSUelections

If you use this every time you post then it is a good way for students to see what is going on. You can also search for hashtags – a good way to pick up people not in your ‘bubble’.

Direct Messaging

The best way to get students to vote for you is to talk to them directly (luckily you can do this online instead of face-to-face if needs be).

Consider the ‘snowball effect’ – if each of your friends messages 5 people, think how many people you could reach.

Things to include when you talk to students:

  • What position have you nominated yourself for?
  • Who are you?
  • Top 3 issues/manifesto points

Remember who your audience is (e.g. a member of a society isn’t going to care what you will do for sports clubs as Activities & Opportunities Officer – tailor your message so it is important to them!)

Memes

  • They are free
  • They are easy to create (Canva, PowerPoint, Paint)
  • Help to establish emotional connection with audience
  • They're already viral

Practicalities of online campaigning

  • Schedule posts to maximise the amount of people who see your message
  • Try to post consistently if you want to get a message across
  • Have a strong and consistent hashtag throughout
  • Don’t overload your posts with too much information
  • Most people use social media on their phone – remember that when creating content

Social media can be trial and error!

Here are some tips from previous candidates

Know your stuff: Find out what students care about and learn more about the issues facing the students you hope to represent. Support your arguments with some kind of evidence.

Get some support: Get your friends involved and ask them to help you, particularly during the voting period.

Make a plan: Make sure both you and your supporters know what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it.

Promote yourself: Think carefully about how to communicate with students and promote yourself. Decide how you are going to get your message out. Consider use of Social Media, lecture shout outs, emails to specific groups of students, perhaps posters or flyers if you are participating in a cross campus election.

Know the voting system: Even if students tell you they are voting for another candidate – ask them to give you their second vote! The Single Transferable Voting system (STV) asks voters to give an order of preference. You should be asking all students to keep you in mind for their 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice of candidates!

Make sure students are voting: Remember to vote for yourself and make sure ALL your friends have actually voted.

Keep momentum going and keep motivated: Although the voting period is relatively short, it can be hard work. Keep contacting and speaking with students. Every vote will count. Cross campus election turnouts are pretty high, but elections for Course Reps, Senior Rep and some Part-time Officer roles are limited to the students they will represent. Don’t give up – every vote will matter!

Ask for help: If you need any support during the voting period, don’t hesitate to contact RUSU staff who will be more than happy to help. Email our elections team at elections@rusu.co.uk to find a time to discuss it further.

Say thanks: Thank your friends for their time and make your supporters feel appreciated.