WHEN BARACK OBAMA became American President in 2008 it was said that he was the first politician to use Social Media to achieve major success in a political campaign. In a fast moving world it’s crucial those with a message, especially of a political persuasion, utilise every tool available to them to have maximum impact.
The traditional methods of delivering leaflets, television debates and party political broadcasts just don’t have the same impact anymore. Generation Y want information now – and holding the key to election success is Social Media.
With more ‘friends’ on Facebook and ‘followers’ on Twitter than his rivals, Barack Obama reached out to America in every way possible. The campaign will be remembered less for a televised debate and more for the number of likes, comments and shares he received. Forget the ‘clapometer,’ the time of the Facebook ‘insight’ is upon us. Television was dead and Social Media reigned. This watershed moment signified a completely different tact for politicians in how they campaign.
Social Media has also revolutionised the face of the marketing industry. Facebook and Twitter have become the number one marketing tool for companies worldwide, and it’s free to use! With 100% return on investment just for sharing content on the Social Media platforms it’s a no brainer to engage with a directory with over a billion subscribers, all waiting for content to hit their news feeds.
When we look at the type of content to share we are not talking about lengthy dichotomies on your manifesto or reasons why people should vote for you (save that for your website) we are talking about snippets of information designed to quickly engage, even amuse, your online followers. Put yourself in the shoes of the voter. As Dave Kerpen discusses in his book Likeable Social Media, “the internet is nothing like it was five years ago, when people endlessly surfed the Web. Many people just don’t access information on the Web in that way anymore. If anything, users surf Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks looking for relevant and recommended content.” They also want it instantly and interesting enough they will ‘share’ with their online friends.
Why is a ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ important? Imagine going to a restaurant that served you the best meal you’ve ever eaten – chances are you will probably want to tell your friends about this culinary paradise and chances are quite a few of them will want to visit themselves. This is because word of mouth is that much more powerful than direct advertising. Now, taking that same notion and thinking about Social Media, if we were to ‘share’ our experiences on there it rings true that others will trust this form of recommendation from an actual human than a faceless advert, the kind of which you probably think clutters your news feed. And it costs you nothing! The average person on Facebook has 125 friends if they were to share your political messages think of the size of audience you would be getting, instantly.
As of 2010 one-quarter of all Internet page views were on Social Media. Imagine no more long cold Sunday afternoon’s spent hand delivering leaflets, around your constituency, fearing your fingers being bitten off by a residents dog as your drop your latest mail shot through the letterbox. Rather, imagine running your whole campaign sat behind a keyboard in a warm home simply delivering messages to people’s news feeds.
You have to be active though. A simple rule is to post no more than three status updates on Facebook and tweets on Twitter per day. You want to stay in voters minds but not ‘spam’ them. Keeping your audience engaged will lead to more likes and followers and also remain at the top of the news feed. Ask your audience what they think of your policies and keep the discussion rolling. Communication is key.
In the UK we are yet to see a political party really use social media to their advantage. Set the benchmark and you can be Britain’s next Obama!
• THE National Liberal Party intends to stand eight candidates in London to fight the European elections. These will be held on 22 May. The main theme of our campaign will be Self-Determination For All! Self-Determinists can keep in touch with our campaign via a Twitter feed and two Facebook sites:
• Twitter @Self_Determ_Day
• Facebook/Nations without States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/184919468292372/
• Facebook/Self-Determination Day: https://www.facebook.com/events/232679183580785/