Digital marketing and politics are going hand in hand for a while and now. Digital marketing strategy has also changed the way political campaigns are done now and way before. Due to the increase in social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram it has become easy to connect to people and give direct messages. Facebook and Instagram ads are more of a popular way to boost the campaigns so as giving an opinion and having an debate in minimum characters or words on Twitter. From stating a movement to protesting, from giving news to launching a campaign all can be done on social media in the presence of a social audience. Digital marketing has really changed the way of traditional campaigning in terms of connecting, spreading and a cost efficient manner.
In the early days we used to see how the political campaigns were done and it required a larger amount of budget. We used to have big large billboards, we used to see flyers all over the place. We also used to have rallies and also visit personally and talk to them, and the most expensive was the ads run on TV, Newspapers and Radios. These all techniques and methods are called traditional methods of campaigning and few of these are still followed and are really important. Now in the age of the internet we all are connected to each other in some or the other form. The Internet has given rise to digital marketing, which has become more of a backbone of almost everything.
To plan for the social media platform we need data and election data is the gold for planning the campaigns. From the data we can know who are the people, what people want, what platforms, people use, what they age, how much they earn and who new policies can be brought and implemented. Data is the key and all the statues are planned according to the data available.
First we will look at social media marketing platforms and strategies to use these platforms.
Digital platforms to be used for political marketing
Social media is the key for political campaigning. Because of social media it has become easy to connect directly to the target audience and speak to them. Social media to be used to campaign and connecting to the larger audience are Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.
Twitter is the most important platform in politics and political campaigns. It is really important to have a twitter presence if you are interested in politics. Just having a twitter profile is not enough you have to be active and must tweet daily so that the audience keeps you engaged and people can know what you think about it. If you are new to twitter and politics then it would be difficult to gain followers, but if you keep tweeting the right content it wont take time for people to notice you and start admiring you.
Strategy for Twitter
- Profile: On twitter it is important to have a cleat profile picture of yours. Make sure the profile picture has the hashtag with the year on it. For example if you are running an local election for 2021, then the profile should contain #Biden2021 or #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #republic2021 or #VoteForChange or #mayor2021. The hashtag can be anything depending on your campaign hashtag or a campaign message. You can have a candid picture of you or a picture of you and a glimpse of the national flag to show patriotism.
- Cover profile: As for profile it is important to set a cover profile also, it can be a picture or even a short video. Picture should contain a hashtag with your picture or political party picture or even picture of who you are fighting for the cause. It again depends on the campaign you decide to run on. If you decide to put a short video make sure you give a direct and clear message or objective of your campaign.
- Bio: A short information about you are your campaign followed by a hashtag and also a link to your website or a campaign page. The link can also be a fundraising link for a cause you support.
- Tweets and media: make sure you tweet regularly and fact checked. Support the cause and stay connected to people.
Instagram is the second most popular social media platform for politicians and Instagram is growing its users every year it has become more of a to be list. On instagram you can post pictures of your work and campaigns, you can also post videos and even go live to connect with people.
Strategy for Instagram
- Profile: It should be the same as Twitter, don’t put a different picture. Try to keep the same picture on all the social media platforms.
- Bio: Bio too remains the same. Same message with hashtag and link.
- Posts and media: Compared to Twitter it is easier to gain followers on Instagram. Audiences present on Instagram are young so design the content according to the audience.
- Hashtag and stories: Hashtags are very much important on Instagram to generate leads and spread the post. Try to keep post related hashtags and upto 15 to 30 hashtags in one single post. Stories are also popular on instagram and it can be used to post everyday activities.
- Story highlights: Story highlights is a good feature from Instagram to save the important stories related to different topics. This will keep the stories visible on the profile for all the time.
In the beginning it all started with facebook and the other social platforms were used for political campaigns. But the use of facebook is decreasing and people are moving more towards Twitter and Instagram. This doesn’t mean that you should not do the campaigns on facebook. Facebook still got the highest number of users on any social media platform and there are many active users on facebook so it is important to run a campaign.
Strategy for Facebook
- Profile or Page: Facebook offers two formats one is profile and the other is page. In profile you have to build your profile and send or accept friend requests so you can be connected and I won’t recommend having a Facebook profile. A Facebook page on the other hand is the same as Instagram or twitter profile where people can follow you and stay connected to you. So the Facebook page is a recommendation for a political campaign. There are various features that come with Facebook page then that of Facebook Profile. On Facebook you can post text, photos and videos. No word limit like twitter and also know video limits. You can also have a signup form to sign up for campaigns and show support.
- Bio, profile picture and cover photo: it remains the same as that of two above social platforms.
- Hashtags and likes: It is not that important to have hashtags on facebook but it is really important to have likes and comments and share on the posts posted on Facebook page. This will help to reach the post to more audiences and will increase the interaction to the post.
YouTube is a video platform or also a search engine. You post videos of the campaign on YouTube and also use it to run an ad campaign. Go live and also use it as an archive for all the speeches and short videos. You can upload a video of you giving speech or addressing people, interviews and also recording any social work. The video posts on other social platforms can be also posted on YouTube. Won’t be considered as the main platform for campaigning but would recommend for video campaigns.
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are the most important platforms to focus more on any political campaign. Increasing presence on these platforms helps to develop a personal brand and people are more likely to remember. But on all these platforms the number of users and audience are millennials and Gen X. you should not forget the Younger generation (gen Z) which are more lean towards new platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. So it is important to consider these platforms as the emerging platforms for future campaigns and now start with the little presence.
Digital Marketing strategy for political campaign
Depending on the elections campaigns are decided and run. The timing for the campaign is important. If there is one year for the campaign we can start the digital campaign slowly and boost the campaign as election day approaches. Few important things are required before starting the campaign and proper campaign strategy should be built.
In digital campaigning it is required to have a website of the candidate name. The website can be like www.joebiden.com or www.donaldjtrump.com. It’s really important to have a website to its name and the candidate should hold the licence to its user name so he/she can have a full control of his/her website. You can buy a domain name from various domain providers and you have to make sure it’s secure ie. It is a https website. As google won’t index a http:// website unless its secure and it will pop a message saying do you trust this website. You don’t want to start your website with these types of questions. So its really important to have a https:// certified.
- Content on the website:
Website homepage should have a hashtag or a tag line on which the campaign is running on. The homepage contains the vision and objectives of the candidate and it is really important to be factfull and to the point. There should also be a voluntary form, signup form and also upcoming events like upcoming campaigns, travel plans and scheduled interviews so that people can engage and support you. It should also have plans that you will implement or follow as you get elected or the plans that will bring benefits to the people after election.
Websites should also contain some different pages like About, Shop, Volunteer, Content, Donet and News or even signup pages. This will help to raise funds for campaigns and donations. Don’t forget to mention and link social media platforms so that people can connect directly to you through social media. It is very much important to design the website mobile friendly. As there are more mobile users then website or tablet users.
As we have linked social media to websites so people can have access to social media and also websites directly. Do social media on a large scale and promote yourself to a greater scale. As people to connect on social media, ask them to like, share, comment and use hashtags on their posts. Hashtags are very important in social media campaigns and as the time passes the engagement will increase and the campaigns are going to spread automatically, just ask people to engage with the content.
Get a good photographer for the campaign who would be clicking your journey of the campaign and as the person. Photos of meeting people, candid work pictures or photos of followers who are promoting your campings. Photos can spread a really strong message then that of videos or text content. The quality of the photos should be good because it’s going to be shared a number of times and can be used in news papers or even in banners and posters. Do keep HD copies of photos on the website under the category of Gallery.
Videos can be short or long. So to keep it interesting the first 3 to 10 seconds are really important. Content in the first few seconds will decide if people are going to like the video or leave the video. It is important to be specific, factual and to the point in the video so that people can understand and make decisions to follow you. Try to put subtitles so it’s easy to communicate the message properly to all the people. Make sure the light and audio quality are good. Short videos can keep people engaged and the long videos will help people to know more about you and your campaigns. Short videos between 15 to 30 seconds can be made and posted on Instagram, Instagram stories or reels and even on Twitter. Short videos are to the point and direct delivery of the messages. Long videos can be interviews, short versions of interviews, speeches or even compilation videos.
You should learn to speak to a camera and smartphone and try to record yourself for the content. Practice to talk to the camera for at least 10sec for short videos and deliver the message in 10sec. Try to learn to take selfie videos and basic use of video recording for short videos.
Direct communication with the followers or having a Q&A session helps to attract more audience. This helps to build trust and increase personal branding. Live videos can be done on Instagram, Facebook and even on YouTube. Campaign at some location and some people can’t join for the campaign can join through live videos and show the support. So live videos are really important in terms of campaigning different places at same time.
Hashtags are part of campaigns on social media and this should be taken seriously to attract more audience. People use hashtags (#) on Twitter and Instagram in front of relevant words or a phrase to categorise those posts and help them to show easily in search. Clicking or tapping the hashtagged words in any message shows another post that includes the hashtag. So for big campaign runs it is important to use a hashtag and keep people talking.
As you will be connecting so many people through campaigns and travels it is important to take an email id or ask them to sign up or register through websites, landing pages and social media. Emails will help to tell followers about the upcoming campaigns, funderasies, new policies and the progress of the campaigns. Emilas are also used to promote campaigning marchertisers.
You must be wondering what we are selling in the election campaigns. Well the answer is yourself. The main intentions of campaigns are to develop personal brand and form a loyal audience who can vote for you at the time of election. So gian their attention it is important to target the right audience at the right time with the right content. Some people may be interested in some policy which will benefit then but some will be interested in something else. You cannot promise some policies to all the audience so you have to target the audience separately and they all go through sales funnel
At the top of the funnel you present content to all the audience. The content should be simple and factful and to the point which will help to pass the first step of the funnel and move towards the next step. The first content will decide to continue further or to pass on.
In the next step you provide them with more content stuff. It should be more stiff with more details and well researched and fact checked. You will tell more about your vision and plans and more about the policies you will bring into. It is more futuristic which will keep them attached to the campaign.
As they move forward into the narrow part of the funnel it’s going to be call to action. In this step you will ask your followers to vote for you and help to implement these policies and also help for development. This is almost the final step for your campaign. You can also add how to vote, where to vote, time and date of voting and reminder to bring an ID. This brings awareness for people to vote and reminds them to vote for the right person.
What we learned is the growing importance of social media and how to use it to launch a campaign. Proper steps and planning is to be done and more to be focused on customer interaction and content production and publication. It is also important to follow the traditional campaigning methods as not everyone uses social media and not everyone is interested in social media. Traditional methods like Ads on Television, radios and podcasts. Billboards and flyers around the city and with ralliers and debate participation. These traditional methods are boosted by social media platforms and a powerful campaign is developed which will help to win the election. Last but not least after elections and the end of the campaigns do stay active on social media which will help to develop a base for the next election campaign.
BY- Sanket Ligade
Digital Marketing Analyst @ The International Institute of Digital Marketing