Are Political Text Messages Illegal? Using Text Marketing in Politics
If you’ve lived in the US in the past decade, you’re probably more aware of politics than you were before. Thanks to social media, you’re also probably more aware of the political opinions of others. The funny thing about hearing others opinions is inevitably you form your own opinions, even if they are different. You may have asked yourself at times, are political text messages illegal?
Studies find that repetitive exposure to one opinion is as impactful on a person as hearing it from several people. Repetitive exposure creates familiarity with an opinion. Familiarity with an opinion is interpreted by the brain the same way popular opinions are interpreted.
It’s probably not a stretch to realize in the US we have repetitive exposure to political opinions. Undoubtedly, you’ve probably formulated an opinion or two of your own. Sometimes there’s nothing more American than having an opinion.
The rise of political opinions
With the frenzy of opinions surrounding elections, you’ve probably heard of political marketing campaigns. Like other marketing campaigns, political marketing embraces all kinds of marketing techniques. After all, running for office is marketing yourself and skills to voters.
Like businesses and entrepreneurs, political figures learn to embrace the world of marketing as it currently exists. Political figures use social media, vlogs, online events, email blasts, online town halls, and even texts to communicate with supporters. Texts stand out from this list because communicating this way is so personal.
If you’re like most people, your text message tone quickly garners a glance at your phone. With such quick and direct access to the attention of voters, you may wonder, “are political text messages legal or illegal?” The answer, thankfully, is they’re definitely legal, as long as you follow proper protocol.
It’s legal to send political text messages to people who consent to receiving them. However, according to the rules from the Federal Communications Commission, autodialed texts to mobile devices are prohibited without consent. This is good news for constituents and those seeking political office. So, let’s dig into the benefits of this campaign regulation.
It’s good news as a constituent because no one wants unauthorized text messages. When your phone dings with that familiar tone, you expect a message you want. Such as a message from a family, friend, or favorite restaurant.
You don’t want an unsolicited message that doesn’t add value to your life. You may have a #wastemytime flashback, and find a way to mute, delete, and block the sender. As a constituent, it’s nice to know there are rules which protect you from robo texts.
But if you text first, such as in a political text message keyword campaign, a message response is expected. For example, you want to contribute $5 to a political fundraiser, so you text a keyword. It responds with a link to make a donation.
Candidates texting with consent
As a candidate, the regulation against robo texts benefits you too. No, you can’t blanket an entire area code with unwanted texts. But, you can build a database of voters that are interested in you and your platform. Send texts to your base of supporters to garner political contributions, provide event updates, and poll them for opinions on issues.
Without rules in place, it’s possible, given the affordability of texting campaigns, an overzealous staffer could negatively impact your public image. The last thing you want is to be up in the polls and fall because you’re now considered pushy.
Additionally, rules that promote consent allow you to connect with people who really want to hear from you. A vast majority of the adult population has a mobile device capable of receiving text messages. And the popularity of text messages is growing consistently among all demographics. So, you’re not limited in your reach, but engaging with people in a way they prefer to communicate.
Meet voters where they are
Meeting voters where they are makes a difference in a close race. When you see an opportunity for a new strategy, implement it! You don’t have to be the first candidate to do something for it to be effective. Learn from other races by researching marketing strategies. Find the right way to deliver the right messages via text to constituents that consent to it.
As a candidate, text marketing is a valuable asset. You are only one candidate, but it takes a team to help you be elected to office. Your team of volunteers and campaign staff all work together to put you in public office.
In order to be an effective and successful team, you have to communicate. Text marketing facilitates that communication and makes it faster and easier. Because you often work with volunteers, employ the same text marketing policies with them as you do your voters. Let’s be honest. Your volunteers are part of your voter base.
Rules for text marketing
Your volunteers are word-of-mouth marketing. Texting volunteers, who forward messages that resonate with them unknowingly grow your base of support. Reach voters you didn’t think you could. So, again, you’ll want to follow the basic rules of texting any voters.
Get consent – Remember people want to hear from people they’ve given permission to text them.
Keep your promises – Politics and promises aren’t always on the same page. During your campaign, make a good impression by texting only what and when you say you will.
Keep it short – Remember texts are known for their brevity, so be sure to keep your information concise and clear.
Be positive – Regardless of how nasty a political race can get, remember to keep it out of your texts.
Give the people what they want – Text marketing works best when you’re adding value to the recipient’s life. Use text to keep people engaged and informed.
There’s not one right way to run a political campaign. There are different tones and messages. There are different stances on different issues. In the United States, there’s as much diversity in political platforms as our culture. So, as a candidate, your methods are limitless as long as you adhere to the law.
Consent is key to your text marketing, especially politically. Laws don’t prevent you from taking full advantage of the popularity of text messaging. They allow you to provide valuable content to voters who are interested in what you have to say. In fact, they might help protect your public image and boost the connection voters feel towards you.
As a voter, you don’t have to hide your phone at the start of every election year. While you may have to go on a social media break, the law prohibits you from receiving unsolicited political texts. So, go to the ballot box without an overloaded text message inbox.