The advent of social media has had a considerable impact on the electoral process. Candidates have discovered its power to swing public opinion and turn likes and shares into votes. Keep reading to learn how social media in politics is the biggest vote-getter you may come across.
To better understand the impact of social media in politics you need to know the benefits it brings to candidates. The most prominent of these are:
These benefits highlight the strength that social media can bring to any political campaign.
I'm still asking you to believe – not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. I believe in change because I believe in you.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) January 20, 2017
As it is with other marketing campaigns, it is essential that you are on the same platforms where your core supporters are. Create a profile of your ideal campaign supporter and use it to determine which platforms they are more likely to use. From there, you can begin building your social media presence.
You need to avoid spreading your presence too thin. This can create social media “ghost towns.” These are social media accounts that you and your party are not able to update and maintain due to limited resources. These create a vacuum in your campaign that can end up alienating supporters on those platforms. With no support there, people will start calling you Jeb Bush…
Twitter is going to be at the forefront of a candidate’s campaign. With it, you can sound out announcements and advisories to your supporters quickly. Furthermore, the site lets you comment on relevant issues in real time, increasing your relevance in the eyes of the wider voting public.
The first US president to truly use Twitter was Pres. Barack Obama. He revolutionized Twitter as a way to connect with voters.
Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
How you, as someone using social media in politics, can reach the same height as Obama is by using our Twitter Retweets Service. You will be able to spread your tweets further as more people will pay attention to these tweets. Not only will your tweets go further, you can also increase the likelihood people will click on your links to follow or donate.
Your Facebook fan page will be the main base of operations on social media. Use it to share both official campaign materials, and behind-the-scenes footage of your sorties. The page can also be used as a discussion forum between you and the public.
Note that all of these platforms have their own “languages.” Facebook content can be longer, while Twitter is used for shorter content. Adapt your campaign messages to the platform to better relay what you’re saying to your supporters.
In most cases, you will be using YouTube to host your political ads online. You can go further and upload videos of your campaign sorties and speaking engagements as well. This helps the wider public relate more to you and better grasp your platforms.
Uploading media coverage of your activities also further establish your reputation. Senator Bernie Sanders frequently makes his video commentaries on issues available on the site, increasing his visibility.
As is the case with all social media platforms, you’re going to be judged based on how many people are following you. On YouTube these followers are called subscribers. To make sure that your video marketing does not alter, use our YouTube Subscribers Service to get your numbers off the ground before you even start campaigning.
One of the key indicators of potential core supporters is how they respond to your campaign message. Ideal core supporters should have a strong resonance with the message that you want to convey. This can be easily determined by studying the conversations on social media relevant to your message.
Find out the hashtags related to the issues that concern you and use them to get into these conversations. From there, you will be able to identify people who are most vocal about these issues and tap them to be your core supporters.
Younger voters are one group that you would want to bring to your fold early. They are often very vocal about the issues that concern them, making them ideal members of your core group.
— Youth For Hillary (@Youth4HRC) March 12, 2016
What’s more, these voters have grown up with the rise of social media itself. This makes them an asset to have in your campaign.
When you have identified who would best fit in as part of your core support group on social media, it’s time to reach out to them. Keep in mind that this is where the divergence from traditional campaign strategies start to show up.
In particular, when using social media in politics, you need to show more presence than with traditional campaigns. In the 2014 American midterm elections alone, the number of voters following candidates on social media doubled compared to 2010. This gives candidates plenty of reasons to increase their activities on the various platforms that they are on.
To gain more dedicated core supporters your social media activity should be relatable to them. Doing similar activities to those done by your target supporters, like sharing music playlists, works well for this purpose. Former US President Barack Obama leaned heavily on methods like this during his bid for reelection in 2012.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 9, 2012
Focusing on the personal aspect of your campaign also helps bring you closer to these supporters.
The core supporters that you have gathered during the early part of your campaign will be your biggest asset on social media. To more effectively get them into action, band them under one official banner. Give them a consistent logo and branding to foster a sense of unity among them. Hashtags are also useful to unify your social media presence:
— 𝕯𝖆𝖒𝖔𝖓 👹 (@AaronCosby1) June 8, 2016
Create dedicated social media pages under that banner as well. Use them to coordinate the activities of your supporters and as a venue for them to communicate with each other. Encourage them to share their experiences on the campaign trail, and their opinions on relevant issues. By keeping these official pages active, your supporters will be able to effectively show force and attract the attention of the wider public.
Another way to utilize your core group to attract wider public support is by letting them engage in “armchair activism.” This is the method of promoting political causes by actively posting and talking about them online.
The common social media actions of liking and sharing these posts also become powerful here, as they serve to further increase the prominence of these political topics.
Give them plenty of materials to post and share on social media. These could be anything from more serious political videos to clever memes, all of which are aligned with your political message. Encouraging your core supporters to create their own content also helps in further reaching out to the larger public.
As is the case with traditional campaigns, directly appealing to voters is often the most effective means of persuading them to cast their votes in your favor. Use your presence on social media to better expound your position on various issues. Post your commentary on both your personal social media pages and other pages associated within your campaign.
This persuasion becomes more effective if you turn your social media campaign into an avenue to get feedback and opinions. By letting the voting public directly ask you questions or comment on your campaign statements, you also get the opportunity engage them. This gives you the chance to explain your beliefs and platforms more clearly and persuade them.
When using social media in politics your efforts need to tie into the larger campaign that you are undertaking. Embedding social media commentary into news coverage of your campaign is one way that you can do it. Note that news organizations are now increasingly looking to social media when creating their stories. Let them freely access your social media pages to get newsworthy bits that they can add to their reports. By including these into the coverage, you are also able to show yourself as promoting democratic discourse.
Conversely, bringing the coverage of your campaign to social media also helps your efforts here in line with the larger campaign. Don’t just share the action on the stage or podium. Give the voting public a glimpse of what is happening backstage.
Backstage with family playing jenga. pic.twitter.com/tDXeJHmT
— Garrett Jackson (@dgjackson) October 4, 2012
This helps demystify you as a candidate and makes you relatable. Letting your supporters on the ground share their experience with you strengthens the effect further.
The impact of social media in politics has become undeniable in the last few elections. Not just in getting people elected, but as part of online crowdfunding efforts. This has prompted politicians to start incorporating the various platforms into their campaigns. Make better use of them by:
Follow these reminders closely and you will be able to persuade the voting public to cast the ballot in your favor come election day.