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Leveraging Social Media for Political Website Design

Two weeks ago I received the kind of email I dread: My brother asked if we could help his brother-in-law with the design and development of a political website. After doing a little digging, my fears were confirmed — there would be little to no money to do this and no content to work with.

The site would be for Bill Conte, a Republican candidate for Summit County, Ohio’s Fiscal Officer. This is a local race in a city that is 85% Democrat against an entrenched incumbent who’s held the office for more than 20 years. The phrase “snowball’s chance . . . “ quickly popped into my head.

Surveying other local, county and state level political websites, we quickly saw how badly most of them are done — poor design, no organic optimization and just plain boring. At the very least, we figured we could have a little fun with design, do something different and maybe benefit from a little networking.

Being a push-over, I agreed with the stipulation that we would have total control of the strategy and creative.

To help prime the search engine pump, we immediately launched a coming soon, organically optimized, place-holder site.

Yesterday, we launched www.BillConte.com, a simple political website that leverages social media as much as possible. We created and embedded Flickr, Linked In, and My Space accounts to help spread the Conte word through social networking, create link-backs to the website and pump up organic search. We seeded YouTube with a couple simple videos. Finally, we created a WordPress blog  as a content management tool and embedded it into the site.

Bill Conte for Summit County, Ohio Fiscal Officer Website

Bill Conte for Summit County, Ohio Fiscal Officer Website

Two weeks ago, if you did a Google search for “Bill Conte” or “William Conte”, our guy had no results. Today, he’s on the first page at number 1 and 8, respectively. For the much more competitive term “Summit County Fiscal Officer”, the YouTube video ranks number 6. Pretty good results in just two weeks.

Now it’s up to Bill to work the social media and keep this snowball from melting too soon. It will be interesting to see what happens in November.

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