In the last decade or so, a good political social media strategy became more and more instrumental to campaigns.
Nowadays, no campaign manager will overlook or ignore social media. Instead, they’ll use every single opportunity to utilize a candidate’s social media in the most effective way.
In this blog, we’ll explain the role of social media in politics and how political campaigns can use social media to achieve their goals.
Why is political social media strategy important?
One of the most important features of social media is the participatory role.
Social media platforms allow politicians to directly communicate with their constituents and vice versa. Constituents can easily participate in political discourse, influence political decisions and make their voices heard, while politicians can share their policy proposals, post ads and fundraising campaigns, and so on.
Some people rely solely on social media platforms for news about politics, but research shows that these people are often less knowledgeable about current events.
Social media was especially important for political campaigns during the pandemic. Since all in-person events were (mostly) cancelled, political campaigns turned to social media. In order to reach their audience and recruit more votes, they were organizing live streams and online Q&As, filming short social media videos and all kinds of content. In 2020, political spending on digital advertising tripled in comparison to 2016.
Social media strategy is only one of many aspects of digital PR that should work seamlessly together.
Suggested read: Digital PR Explained: Best Strategies and Tools for 2021
How are politicians using social media?
1. Communicating & Informing
Communication and providing important information should are the centre of every political social media strategy. Make sure you’re regularly updating your followers on your campaign movements, speeches, rallies, successes, changes, and answer their questions while at it.
Also, make sure your responses are personalized and well thought out.
Candidates and their campaigns are regularly asking for campaign contributions on social media.
When it comes to fundraising, research shows that up and coming politicians who didn’t previously hold office get a boost in contributions, especially after joining Twitter. The same scenario doesn’t apply to experienced candidates, though.
Political ads on social media became one of the most controversial topics in politics, particularly due to the lack of a legal framework. 54% of Americans are saying that political ads should be banned from social media.
Nevertheless, candidates and campaigns throw large sums of money to advertise on social media. It’s been reported that ads from politicians and campaigns accounted for at least 3% of Facebook’s estimated third-quarter U.S. revenue.
Advertising on social media provides campaigns to target specific groups of voters with tailored content which is not possible on other media such as TV or radio.
Political social media strategy – do’s & don’ts
Preparing political social media strategy is no different than preparing social media strategies for various brands. You still ought to be well informed about the brand (candidate), what it represents, and what message you want to send out to your target audience (voters).
For candidates, especially those less known, social selling might be a great first introduction to voters. Marketing and salespeople often use social selling tactics to build relationships with potential leads. This type of approach will help you establish connections with your voters by presenting them with your plans, and what benefits they’ll have in their communities. It’s definitely one of the things you should add to your political campaign management toolkit.
Remember that the biggest strength of social media is being able to reach a lot of people at once. But, reaching the voters is not enough. You have to interact with them and respond to their questions, comments, suggestions, etc. You can do that by doing live videos or recording Q&As with questions from social media, replying to posts, creating content such as blogs based on FAQs…
Learn from previous mistakes
As we mentioned before, social media has been around in political campaigns for over a decade now. Since then, many mistakes have been made, and you should definitely learn from them. Each election cycle brings some new trends and you should try and follow them. Whether it’s new popular apps, social media platforms, or communicating styles, see what fits your candidate and message the best and use it to your advantage.
Speaking of new apps and social media platforms…
So far, Facebook and Twitter have been at the forefront of political campaigns. But, in 2020 TikTok was especially popular among young people and many of them were first-time voters who got their news exclusively from the app. Diversify your content as well. People respond better to photos, videos and infographics than plain text.
Give people reason to come back! Regularly update your information and post the most recent news. Since your social media platforms and website are practically the only information source you can control, use them to update your voters on a regular basis with the most important news.
Use media monitoring
By implementing media monitoring into your political campaign management, you’ll get valuable insights in real-time that will help you make informed decisions. With media monitoring tools, you’ll be able to track online mentions about everything connected to your campaign and create reports that will help you shape your social media strategy in the weeks to come. Also, you’ll be able to understand what type of content your voters prefer or not.
With such tools, you’ll get valuable campaign analytics that will help you reach your political goals.
Suggested read: Improve your political campaign with media monitoring
Ignoring social media
Ignoring or poorly managing your social media strategy
can be will be the death of your campaign. It’s simply impossible to run a successful political campaign without social media nowadays.
That’s why many are wondering whether Trump will run again, and how will he reach his voters since his Twitter ban. Twitter even confirmed that they won’t restore his account even if he’s elected president again in 2024.
Commentators on social media can be ruthless. But, you shouldn’t give them more oxygen by replying to each and every negative comment out there. Moreover, you shouldn’t stoop to their level and be rude. That will not look good in the eyes of other voters that are following the situation.
If you notice that a specific comment is rude and false, but is gaining attention, respond politely and correct the falsehoods.
Forgetting to fact-check
Mistakes happen, but if you repeat the same mistake over and over you’ll lose credibility among the voters. Provide your voters with truthful and accurate information, otherwise, they’ll turn to other sources and campaigns for information.
To sum up
In the grand scheme of things, social media strategy is a small, but very important part of political campaign management. You want to make sure that your strategy is attracting voters, keeping them informed and eager to vote for your candidate.
With the ever-changing social media scenery, make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest trends and tactics that will help you gain attention and lead your candidate to victory.