While social media played a slow, simmering role in earlier elections, it’s clear the impact of the platform on elections wasn’t fully realized until the most recent presidential campaign. From Twitter rants to the influx of bots, we can see now that social media is a place where political campaigns can be made or broken. If you’re on a campaign team, whether for a candidate, platform, party, or ballot issue, you’ll want to pay attention. You can’t ignore social media. In fact, not only do you have to pay attention, you need to have a strategy.
Social media gives a good overview of general sentiments and public opinion. Whether campaigns use data mining techniques (hello, Cambridge Analytica) or if they use less invasive methods, it’s possible to get a sense of overall opinion. Other tools, like causal polls on Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram, allow campaigns to get information from their audiences. Of course, this type of data gathering isn’t remotely scientific or unbiased, but it can give campaigns important information.
Using analytics from their followers on social media, campaigns can see where their online demographics really stand. Both Facebook and Twitter give basic insights on age, gender, income, and more. This type of information can be key in strategizing for online campaigning. Best of all, it’s free. So campaigns can access a lot of information without spending money for expensive polling and public opinion surveys.
Whether it’s upcoming campaign events, commentary on the current administration, spreading the word about other news, or even explaining their platform, many campaigns use social to spread information. This one-way communication comes from the candidate or campaign’s team and goes outward in a one-to-many approach. Unfortunately, due to traffic, algorithms, and audience attention, these posts are becoming less and less significant. Unless the campaign uses shock or controversy, these posts have a small impact. Depending on your campaign goals and needs (Is it a local school board election or is it state-wide in California?), that may not be enough.
These posts are little more than free ads. Sure, ads will get more eyes (because they’re paid), but there’s no conversation. We know that social media users want more personalized, unique interactions. We talked about this in a recent post about the work brands have to do to get consumers’ attention. Sorry campaigners, not only are you not the exception, you’ll have to work harder.
Some campaigns may be using this strategy, but not many, and definitely not at any scale. Sure, and campaign team can respond to a few questions or reply to some tweets. But even the campaigns who engage this way can’t start proactive conversations. At KickFactory, we have the tools to help campaigns identify potential voters (age, geography, and more) then engage with them on topics they mention on their accounts. Here’s an example from the work we did with Evan McMullin in the 2016 presidential campaign:
— Team McMullin (@TeamMcMullin) November 9, 2016
Even though this person wasn’t addressing Evan’s campaign specifically, we could reach out to educate and inform. This interaction is unique, unexpected, and effective. Instead of blasting out tweet after tweet designed for the masses, these tweets “stop the scroll”. In fact, the user doesn’t even have to scroll to see it—in many cases, they’ll get a push notification on their phone.
Curious? Ready to bring in something unique and unexpected to your campaign this election season? We’d love to show you how the KickFactory team can help you design and implement a campaign to reach voters. Contact us today!