Over the past decade, the world has witnessed a substantial increase of social media activity with political campaigns. Social Media is a tool for voters to express their opinions about candidates, parties, legislation, media, money in politics and platforms. Candidates, please take notes. This blog is a starting point to learn what you can do differently to effectively reach voters through social media in 2017.
How can it be used?
Social media marketing is a process with the potential to reach millions of people, and in politics, that's half the battle. Social media platforms have the capability to influence people to support a candidate, but also, it ca drive voters away from a candidate based on the candidate's image, message, and presentation on social media.
Like the 1960 US Presidential debate, then Vice President Richard Nixon was well prepared for the debate against Senator John F. Kennedy, but Nixon's appearance on television was not complementary. Nixon appeared to not feel well with his health issues at the time, while Kennedy looked polished and clean cut. From 1960 to 2016, presentation has always been relevant, but the tools available for a candidate's presentation have changed.
The concept of a candidate's presentation applies to social media and how voters perceive the candidates online can make or break the candidate. A candidate has to be aware of how the present themselves on social media as much as they present themselves at town hall meetings, fundraisers and public speaking engagements.
In short, candidates can leverage social media to share their interactions with voters on the trail. Candidates can post pictures of them talking and engaging with local voters. Candidates can post a question to voters on social media, request feedback and gather direct answers from voters to improve their campaign message and strategy. In addition, candidates can share pictures of supporters with a candidate and have the supporter share how their candidate will improve the quality of life for their district with other voters. When undecided voters see where you're going, whom you've met and where you've been, they then see the level of support that you have that can ultimately influence them to vote for you.
Can it really help change people’s minds on politics?
You never know what might change a voter’s mind. An image, as we’ve seen time and time again, can change the world and outcome of events and campaigns. In general, social media tends to be very insular. Voters will go online to meet other likeminded people and express their views, which are often, but not always too entrenched to be swayed by a single Facebook post.
Online engagement is critical; it’s not always a sign of success. The amount of followers you have is not indicative of the amount of support your campaign has on the trail. For instance, twitter users often follow users they may not agree with just to keep up to date with what a candidate’s message.
In the last decade, voters have based their vote on a candidate’s temperament, image on social media and commentary on social media about the candidate. A voter may not agree with a candidate’s politics, but if a candidate has a professional and personable temperament, that may benefit their campaign on election night.
In short, social media can give you a significant platform to share your views and ideas. Candidates have undecided voters to pursue who simply don’t know what to think and who to vote for. Be clear and consistent with your message. For candidates, the goal is to not tell voters how to vote, but to share your ideas, start a dialogue online and encourage voters to talk to their neighbors about your campaign platform.
Become a Powerful Presence Online!