Jason Rand
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Every year, the Tuesday after the first Monday of November is America’s Election Day. Today, millions will exercise their civic duties by voting for elected officials and weighing in on local and state propositions.

As people head to the polls, we wanted to highlight a few current and past Ning political communities for individuals running for elected positions, and offer a few best practice tips for community managers and online political engagement. More generally, the below can be applied as you appeal to your constituency or intended audience, discuss what you’re all about, and tell your story in an authentic and meaningful way – all-the-while building a base of supporters and a community standing behind you:

Think Local
What matters most to your constituency and how will you effectively communicate your stance on particular issues? What’s on the minds of your supporters, and how do you intend to affect things on a local level? Let supporters (and skeptics) know where you stand, and how their voting for you and your win will positively affect things locally.

Have a first-hand approach
Welcome your supporters by writing first-hand accounts as you campaign via blog posts or quick status updates. If you use services like Twitter or Facebook to send updates, embed your streams front and center on your community. This not only gives people an up-to-date sense of what you’re focusing on, it gives them lightweight options to stay informed, and lets them know about upcoming speaking engagements and public appearances where they can meet you.

Make your online presence shine
Not every politician has a six-plus figure budget to work with for his or her campaign. The beauty of the Internet is that it has opened the doors to sharing information globally, letting you affordably tell your story and positions to anyone. As more and more people of all ages turn to the Web for their news and information, consider what’s top-of-mind for voters, and what they’re likely searching for and typing in Google and other search engines. Ensuring you includes terms, words and phrases important to voters will help you get the word out about your campaign when they search the Web. This practice, known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can improve the volume and quality of traffic from visitors coming to your community.

If you create a campaign video, be sure to upload it to your Ning community, as well as third-party video sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo. Embed the video in your community or on blog posts and pages you create, and add a URL link back to your Ning community if you upload the video to third-party services.

Encourage your supporters to share your stance
Leveraging the social circles of your biggest supporters can lead to virality, spreading the word about your campaign faster. Adding to this, people trust brand recommendations made by friends, family and acquaintances – for many, the influences made by personal recommendations and support during elections is no different. Interesting and thought-provoking content you create and post is likely something people will want to share, and by enabling social sharing through services like Google+, Facebook and Twitter, you make it very easy for your supporters to let their friends and family learn more about you.