By Olawale Ajayi
Today, we will quickly be looking at digital marketing in the area of politics, and how it can enhance a politician’s image, we will also show how a politician can take advantage of this for election victory.
How significant is digital political marketing? No doubt, it is very essential, especially during the time of election, because it is important to get people to know you and find out what your proposals are. Just as it is also indispensable to show people what has been done, or the experience you have. Now, what better way can one achieve this feat than through the internet, which is where most people go in search of information?
Essentially, digital political marketing, as its name suggests, is a way to apply digital marketing techniques in the field of politics, with diverse objectives such as becoming known as a candidate, improving personal image, disseminating information on the works you have done while you occupied a political post and your intentions for asking for people’s confidence and vote.
Leaving aside the fact of the widespread use of the internet today, another reason why it is a good idea to use digital strategies is related to the influence of social networks on people’s opinion.
Social networks are the favourite media for many users to share their opinions on various topics; politics is no exception; often a positive opinion on social media sways many people’s opinion and this has the potential to greatly enhance the image of a politician.
So being aware of what is being said about you on social networks and taking action to get opinions to your advantage, is of paramount importance for a person’s political career.
What can be achieved by using digital political marketing?
If you have a properly trained team in digital marketing, you will be able to know, in a general way, people’s opinion of you and also project an image that is in accordance with your goals.
In addition, you can communicate your messages directly to the people interested through campaigns, generate engagement and interact directly with other people to know their concerns and needs, and to give them a better answer.
There is no doubt that digital marketing policy is an excellent strategy that has the potential to help you reach your goals as a politician that is relevant in today’s world.
Digital Marketing and US Presidential Candidates
In 2008, the electoral campaign that made Barack Obama become the president the US changed the political landscape because, for the first time in an election, digital marketing and social media took the lead and took the candidate to the White House.
Only the videos of Obama’s YouTube campaign were watched for 14.5 million hours, without paying for television adverts, which had prevailed until then.
In 2016, we also witnessed a new presidential campaign in which, once again, digital marketing was a major driver (if not the main driver) of success for political candidates. Each of them took the online marketing route, basically relying on four types of strategy.
Digital Marketing and US Presidential Candidates
Donald Trump had free coverage (or almost).
In the US, you can’t turn on the TV or open an internet browser without Donald Trump popping up. The Republican candidate turned the election campaign into a real reality show and as a result, he was able to achieve broad coverage of the mass media in a theoretically free way.
So to what extent did the media help Trump? Some estimates speak of the equivalent of $2 billion in free advertising. Figures that far exceed the $313 million that were estimated in Ted Cruz’s advertising, Bernie Sanders’s $321 million or Hillary Clinton’s $746 million.
Trump has gotten more minutes coverage than all the other candidates put together. Given that presidential campaigns are limited in money, this means that the media helped Trump get excellent results from a low budget. In fact, Trump spent less money on election announcements than any other candidate. However, their marketing was so successful that it is the center of all conversations in North America.
Bernie Sanders and crowdsourcing
The Democratic candidate became synonymous with the term “political revolution.”
In February, Sanders topped $ 42.7 million from 1.4 million contributions (averaging $30 each), while Hillary Clinton only managed to raise $30 million in the same month.
The following month, March, Bernie crushed the previous figure, raising $ 44 million, a record in the number of contributions achieved in an election race.
However, crowdsourcing goes beyond fundraising. Sanders’ fan groups worked independently on various projects to get the vote and promote their candidacy. For example, a group of them called Coders for Sanders, created the web FeelTheBern.org in their free time in order to defend the proposals of Bernie Sanders. Even many followers continued to spend a good part of their time on the campaign, helping through the creation of applications intended for Sanders supporters to organize and share information.
His supporters began by originally organizing themselves on the Reddit social platform, where Sanders for President is Reddit’s largest subcommunity for a presidential candidate with 212,000 members working together to raise fund and other purposes independently of the official campaign.
Hillary Clinton and Marketing on LinkedIn
Sanders’ big competitor in the Democratic Party, wife of former President Bill Clinton, was the queen of social networks. Although, Trump had more followers on Twitter, Clinton was the one that most interacts with her followers. Interestingly, while all the candidates have profiles on Facebook and Twitter, Clinton set her focus on LinkedIn.
It is true that some of the candidates have LinkedIn pages (others do not), but only Hillary shines in the professional social network, because she was the only one who uses it to talk about problems and reach the professional market. She does not just post pictures of her election campaign on her LinkedIn page, but writes long posts expanding her thoughts on the country’s major problems. One of them had more than 450,000 views and was shared thousands of times through this social network.
It’s hard to say what impact this had, but LinkedIn users were certainly a target Clinton targeted.
John Kasich, Ted Cruz and mobile applications
Sanders’ followers created a number of applications for their own organization, those of John Kasich and Ted Cruz were the only campaigns that had their own official mobile applications.
Kasich’s highlight was to offer the latest campaign news directly on the home screen, along with buttons to donate or volunteer. Then the app lets you browse to get to Kasich’s store, see upcoming events, get in touch with campaign members or directly go to the website.
For its part, the application of Cruz included more or less the same elements, but it differed because it was more interactive rather than merely informative. Of course, what really sets it apart was because of its options that encourage competing users of the app. In fact, with the application it was possible to compete with friends for being the best driver of the campaign, remind contacts that they should attend a rally or share the graphic elements of the campaign. For each activity completed, the application allows to earn points that can be exchanged for badges and rewards related to the candidate.
While not all candidates have their own application, it seems that this can become a trend over time. And, as the mobile market expands, apps provide a way for supporters to stay involved wherever they are. This is sure to encourage candidates to use these types of applications as a marketing tool to help them in the election campaign.