National elections get all the hype and glory, but there is still action is on the down ballot. The problem is, with all the attention on the big name politicians on the national stage, how does someone running in a state, county, or city election run a digital campaign when they are likely running the whole show themselves?

Progressives, we got crushed in 2016. Yes, Russia and Cambridge Analytica played their parts. However, as we watch the investigations into corruption and malfeasance unfold, those 2018 midterm elections are coming up fast. If we do not up our game, the same thing could happen again.

Here’s the good news: we can utilize the same platforms they did with brutal efficacy to counter-balance their tactics without ever crossing the line into black hat, or even grey hat, tactics. 

That’s not all.

The Facebook advertising platform is C-H-E-A-P cheap.

As of this writing, $150,000 is what Facebook confirmed that Russia’s ‘ad buy’ cost to sway the 2016 election for Trump. As we learn more, that number will rise, but even if it doubles, it is truly remarkable.

With the right training, grassroots progressive campaigns can use some of the very same tactics that got Trump elected. What’s more is that this can be done without ever putting out unethical or untruthful content.


In the old days a campaign came down to get out the vote efforts. The successful candidate was the one that put together a team that could  energize their people enough to break them out of their daily routines and make their way to the ballot box.

Digital media is changing the rules.

If you aren’t taking the time to tailor the right message to the right demographic, you’re behind the curve.

Imagine running for a city council office and being able to craft a message directly to military personnel–or even veterans– in your city, putting it on video, and placing it right in front of their eyes within minutes.

But wait, there’s more…

Then you can turn around and do the same thing for small business owners, low income households, families with young children, and so on.

Or how about fundraising for an animal rescue? Would it be helpful to be able to send a targeted video to people you knew had been browsing profiles of available cats?

Of course it would! How much do you think a simple message along these lines would increase donations: "Even if you can’t adopt or foster right now, your five dollar donation can help Mr. Twinkles with his injections so he can find his forever home!" Double?



If you’re a bootstrapped nonprofit scrambling to raise funds or the underdog in a local election there’s a good chance your competition isn’t aware these tools exist. Even if they are aware, though, they probably do not have an inkling of just how powerful they really are.

How do I know this? I have been studying these techniques from entrepreneurs that have made millions of dollars though them. Yet, if you comb through case studies published by preeminent digital campaign agencies like Revolution Messaging you will see a lot of focus on emerging technologies and innovation.

Here’s the thing: I’m talking about tried and true digital marketing methods that can literally cost you pennies.

Results from a recent video campaign experiment I ran with a total ad spend of less than $30 (ideally you’d want to spend $10-$20 per day).

You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to take advantage of the tools I’m talking about. What it all comes down to is:

  • FaceBook ads
  • FB Retargeting
  • FB Lookalike audiences
  • Google AdWords
  • Search Engine Optimization

The right mix of platforms can be different for each campaign, but all of the above provide something that is really key to all of this: analytics.

Analytics gives you the power to quickly see what’s working and what’s not. They help you decide when to scale up, and when to kill an ad. If there is one thing that makes digital marketing more advantageous than traditional marketing, it has to be the level of analytics you can look at on any given campaign.


The entire Facebook platform is designed to put content in front of users that want to see it. A message crafted for a specific audience is not itself unethical in any way unless you are deliberately misleading it.

I firmly believe that in the digital realm it is possible to fight fire with fire without crossing the line. If we really believe that our message has the power of truth behind it, then we should be eager to engage in a fair fight once we know the lay of the land.

Progressives are still playing catch up when it comes to these tactics and strategies, but once we start employing them effectively, we are going to win.