When Donald J Trump won the US Presidential election in 2016, one of his first statements was, ‘social media helped me win!’ Even Google said Trump “won the election in the search.” Although Trump was always ‘a darling’ of social media due to his controversial lifestyle, quotes and his popular TV show ‘The Apprentice’, nobody even thought that his digital marketing media presence could be so compelling that it can win him the presidency!
Now that’s the power of digital marketing. Nowadays, a simple post on Facebook, a beautiful picture on Instagram, some quirky Twitter post can do wonders for the candidates who are going to compete in an election. However, how can digital marketing influence voters in such a big way? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out the reasons behind that.
1. Micro-Targeting: According to Marian Garcia, professor, Kent Business School, digital marketing can help the political parties to reach the fragmented audiences and elusive voters. This tool can also provide relevant messaging built around their ever-changing content consumption and sharing habits. By creating engaging, highly personalised policy announcements across multiple digital marketing platforms, political candidates can engage with crucial demographic groups, such as the millennial to boost conversion. To put this in simple way, social media enables the candidates to build their brand in their own way and engage in direct communication with the voters. These conversations can be used to pass on tailored and relevant messages. Slowly and steadily, these relevant messages become resonant and later on, these actually turn into the opinions and views of the targeted voters!
2. Engaging The Youth: The most volatile section of the population, which is supposedly apolitical, are always glued to the digital marketing channels and perhaps the most ‘active’ and ‘opinionated’ section on social media. Political parties can target the youth in their preferable domain and mould them according to their agenda.
3. Analysing Data: This is the age of big data. We almost regularly create huge amount of information online which can help the analysers predict our behaviour. Analysis of this data can be used to give insights about the demographics. Politicians can use these insights to sway constituents in their way.
4. The Power of Polls: One of the many interesting features that digital marketing platforms offers is you can conduct polls on various platforms time-to-time. The results will be unbiased, not at all manipulated and will indicate the flaws of the policies put forward by the parties and the agenda with which they are going to the election. Unlike physical polls and exit polls conducted by market research organisations, polls on social media can really put forward almost accurate insights.
5. Authenticate Your Brand: In today’s world of yellow journalism, fake news, misleading campaigns can really make or break the future of a political party facing the election. There may be many fake accounts circulating on the Internet, which may harm your political campaign. Therefore, a political party has to reach their audience before others. A well documented website, a verified Facebook page/Instagram account/Twitter handle, in-depth blogs etc can really put forward the ‘brand’.
6. Digital Advertising: This low cost advertisement option can be utilised to engage the TG in a meaningful way. Though the word ‘sponsored’ is generally mentioned on these adverts, but in the world of scrolling, people generally overlook that. A party’s reach to its audience increases tremendously through these ads as the inbuilt algorithms of digital media help them to reach the exact target audience.
Social media was once a way to contact friends far and wide. Now, however, it’s used as a form of advertising, connecting us with brands, celebrities and, of course, politicians.
Political parties launching digital marketing campaigns are not a new phenomenon, but the use of social media in their campaigns has undoubtedly increased. During the 2015 general election at Great Britain, the Conservatives spent £1.2 million on their digital marketing campaign. In comparison, the Labour Party spent less than £200,000. Some Labour party members believe that Facebook was the reason for their loss in that election. On the other hand, US president Donald Trump’s presidential campaign spent most of its digital advertising budget on Facebook, testing more than 50,000 ad variations each day in an attempt to micro-target voters. All these indicate that for political organisations looking to reach potential voters digital targeting can’t be ignored!