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Digital marketing technology especially the Internet has brought major changes to the way politicians and their parties conduct political campaign communications and messaging in 2023 and beyond.
In this article, we will walk through the top digital marketing tips for political campaigns and how political candidates and parties can maximize them.
As nations on different continents draw closer to yet another electioneering season, aspiring political candidates and parties have become very effective in their use of digital marketing campaigns to help them spread their message and build a support base.
Dubbed Politics 2.0 in some quarters, online digital campaign strategies aren’t just about website visits, clicks, volunteering, raising donations, or submitting forms.
It has evolved into delivering your message to the voters as guided by data of what, where, and when of these voters.
Smart political parties have learned to either engage the services of result-driven digital marketing consultants or hire their own in-house online marketing team to help drive their political campaign message online.
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The reason is obvious – with the penetration of smartphones and other digital communication devices, a lot more people spend their time on the internet doing different things.
Also, the explosion of social media has meant that a vast majority spend much time online. So disseminating political messages where people spend most of their time has become inevitable.
Aspiring politicians and their parties tap on the experience of digital marketers in approaching these voters with precision-targeted campaign strategies designed using data-driven audience analysis. The keyword here is DATA-DRIVEN!
Politics 2.0 is Data-Driven
The candidates and their parties have realized that data run everything online. Simple data they may not have access to may turn out to be the game-changer, for or against them. These form part of the digital marketing tips for political campaigns
For example, the effectiveness of such strategies became evident as Donald Trump in the USA and the 2016 Leave campaign in the UK Brexit referendum won against the odds.
Both campaigns used extensive data-driven digital media targeting in both victories.
Also, the Buhari campaign organization in Nigeria used some intuitive online marketing in 2015 to promote their candidate in the southern part of Nigeria.
That is the area where his candidacy wasn’t very popular, but where internet penetration is much higher. needless to say, he won.
Political parties and their candidates have continued to develop these digital marketing skills and tools in general elections and have continually coasted to victory.
Why Political Campaigns Prioritize Digital Marketing
Candidate Barrack Obama used digital marketing strategies in the 2008 election to great effect, which culminated in his victory at the polls. Donald Trump inundated users with Youtube front-page ads prior to his unbelievable victory.
Digital campaign finance statistics available from statista.com show that over 2.847 billion was spent on digital political advertising in the United States from 2008 to 2020.
It’s estimated that $1.34 billion dollars were spent on U.S. digital political ad spending for the 2019–2020 election cycle which is a little over three times the budget of the 2015–2016 election cycle.
As of January 2022, over $2.1 billion has been spent on about 14 million different online political campaigns by 98,000 advertisers.
Of these, the (Donald) Trump Make America Great Again Committee led with nearly $140 million spent on Facebook and Google alone.
Political party and their candidates have realized the inevitability of digital marketing tips for political campaigns if they have to win. Opting out of online political marketing is not an option for any party or candidate.
They have taken note of this phenomenon and dedicated sizable portions of their campaign marketing budgets to online political marketing strategies ever since. These are good reasons to run digital marketing political campaigns.
The Growing Use of Social Media in Political Campaigns
Traditional advertising on its own is very expensive, and political advertising is even more expensive. Traditional media houses charge even more money for political adverts.
In his presidential campaign, Michael Bloomberg (former New York City Mayor) spent over a billion US dollars before he dropped out. Advertising alone accounted for more than 70% of that budget.
Such huge funds highlight the humongous sums political office aspirants have to spend in order to be heard. This is why 90% of elections are won by incumbents. Newbie politicians have no chance, or that was back in the days.
Thankfully, with social media tools, political candidates don’t have to come up with all that money before their messages can be heard by netizens.
Social media has changed the political campaign game, allowing newcomers and incumbents alike to campaign directly to their audience.
A new study finds that newcomers to politics can get a huge boost in their support base by using social media channels in their political campaign strategy.
The good news is that this costs them next to nothing and is easily accessible by anyone with access to the internet.
This study proves that political newcomers can take advantage of social media to gain recognition and raise money, which could help them in competing against strong incumbents.
Social Media Political Campaign follows Netizens Wherever They Go
Campaign financing apart, Social media is everyone’s second home. Most people spend quality time commenting on posts. Political campaign consultants have taken note of this trend and are channeling their political campaigns to take full advantage.
Every data-driven political campaign is meant to be carefully crafted for the particular candidate, which addresses their constituents and presents the party and candidate in the best way possible.
The fact is much of our political discourse today happens via social media. Most of the topics discussed there to find their way to the traditional media and then onto those not yet online.
Social media comments and tweets are the modern-day public forum. It has revolutionized the way we absorb information. In short, social media is a very important aspect of digital marketing tips for political campaigns.
Also, the social media comment features create room for the candidates and their constituents to communicate directly, argue out issues, and maybe come to a common ground after a back-and-forth.
Again, with social media comes the make-believe that is awash everywhere. Political office candidates also have to take advantage of this ‘celebrity politics and present themselves as celebrity candidate.
After all, that is what most social media users want to see.
Aside from this, citizens also want to participate in politics, hence digital marketing consultants for politicians and their parties are taking the message to these citizens where they are – on social media.
Required Political Ads Disclaimer On Social Media
Political advertising on social media has come to become part of political campaign strategies in the past decade.
As a political candidate aspiring to deploy your campaign on the internet, you need to be aware of the Political Ads Disclaimer as required by social media platforms. This is essential in order for you to run ad campaigns on their platforms.
All these take days, so the earlier you start, the better!
Without this disclaimer, they will decline any political ads. So now is the best time to start preparing for it, since it takes some days before it’s finally approved.
This disclaimer will require you to own an email address compatible with the candidate or the name of the campaign organization.
Also, the candidate or a nominated person or member of the campaign organization will have to provide a means of identification which will be verified by the social media platform.
All these take days, so the earlier you start, the better!
Digital Marketing Tips for Political Campaigns
Here are time-tested digital marketing strategies for political party candidates. Employ these judiciously and you are sure to coast to victory, at least in the online political space.
These are the political campaign marketing strategies used by seasoned digital marketing political consultants over the past decade to enable top politicians to win elections.
1. Build an Integrated Campaign Website
No matter what anyone tells you, a campaign website designed to integrate most online campaign channels and made to automate most tasks is the starting point of your online political campaign strategy.
The political campaign itself is very time-consuming. The last thing you need is to add other tasks that will divide your attention.
A dynamically automated campaign website makes this a breeze, as most tasks are automated to handle themselves, allowing the candidate ample time to focus on other relevant issues, while maintaining an online presence.
2. Have a Clear and Recognizable Brand
Ensure you develop a clear and consistent brand identity across all digital marketing campaign media. Your branding is very important, so you have to make it consistently easy for people to recognize, no matter the platform.
From colors to fonts, to adverts, and even merchandise, everything has to be in sync and consistently the same theme.
3. Put Out Content as Regularly as Possible
People like to know that at certain times of the day or week, they are sure to get fresh content from the candidate. Where this is not possible by the candidate, a digital marketing team can be hired to do this.
Also because all digital media (and social media) platforms prioritize profiles that put out content regularly, your messages will be shown to more people than those who do not post content regularly.
The more people see your content, the better acceptance you get.
You can make use of content automation tools to queue posts for the future and have them drop at the stipulated time, keeping your profiles fresh and updated. Tools to consider include, Sprout Social, Planable, SocialPilot, and SocialOomph.
4. Always check your facts before publishing
The internet never forgets. This is a popular saying on the internet. You don’t want to walk back on a story that you did not confirm before posting and which later was confirmed to be false.
Learn to use various online tools to conduct fact checks where necessary. Misinformation and false claims can be verified by even kids these days, and this can dent a candidate’s profile and perception.
5. If Raising funds, make it prominent
Many candidates raise campaign funds for their political campaigns. If this is true for you or your candidate, ensure this is very visible across your various digital marketing campaign platforms.
Congress legislates. Support a congressional candidate that will out-work the corporate lobbyists: https://t.co/6FALlcnuja. Our campaign advanced to the runoffs in Texas! Help us win: 1⃣ Chip in if you can. 2⃣ Phone bank. 3⃣ RT and spread the word! https://t.co/E5syDoMFsA
— Donna Imam (@donnaimamTX) April 10, 2020
Candidate Donna Imam uses Twitter to raise funds for her congressional campaign
Facebook, for instance, has proven to be a great platform for raising funds online for various causes. There are other digital platforms where political campaign funding can also be sourced.
Having said that, be careful not to cross the line where your donation solicitation becomes spam.
6. Ask (and answer) Questions
Digital media, especially social media grew to what it is today due to its interactive nature. It gave users a voice to be heard. Make the best use of this by ensuring you include questions in your posts.
Ask questions often, and by all means, try to answer them. This will probably not be possible for the candidate. So it’s a wise idea to get a close team member assigned to this duty. The reward is worth the effort.
7. Spice up your posts with non-political issues
Recognize that while you need as many votes as you can get from all eligible voters, not all of them are interested in politics.
But you can keep them all engaged online by also sharing content that’s not related to politics every now and then. This shows such apolitical people that there is also another side to you the candidate.
View this post on Instagram
Hon Kelechi Nwogu of RSHA in Nigeria shares his personal workout pix on his social media profiles
Share images of you doing sports, family images, walking your dog, or simply doing funny stuff. These resonate with many people and endear them to the politician.
8. Engage with Live Video where possible
People love reality and nothing beats reality more than a live video. Prepare very well and where possible, go live on any of the social platforms and engage with the electorate.
This is a much cheaper alternative to going on traditional media like radio or TV. While those are also good, you cannot compare them with digital media Live platforms. For starters, those can be rewatched over and over again.
For example, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Florida House Representative Anna Eskamani used Facebook Live to inform voters about relevant issues like unemployment benefits and more.
In Rivers state Nigeria, Assemblymember Kelechi Nwogu also engaged the populace with Facebook Live where they interacted in a Facebook Live program he tagged Q and A. People called in while he was Live to answer questions and won cash prizes.
These kept voters and non-voters glued to the candidates and earned them unquantifiable love across the board.
9. Share Quote Cards often
Quote cards are memorable. The quotes resonate with the electorate and endear the sharer to them. These cards are a hit for political candidates on social media.
The best types of quotes to share include inspirational quotes, humor, statistical insights, leadership quotes, and damning stats (where the candidate is an opposition, proving the incumbent has failed).
10. Integrate youthful Streetwise Slangs
People like it when you speak their language. The street is no different.
While political office holders and aspirants are expected to conduct themselves with decorum, there is nothing wrong with chipping in with streetwise slang now and then to also woo those on the streets.
These slangs are not just popular on the streets, they are popular with Millenials and Gen Z. They mostly love it when those they look up to as being in another sphere come down to speak the very slangs they use.
Also chipping in with their behavior will do wonders. While it lasted, the dab was a very wonderful way to show that you ‘belonged’. US congress saw a lot of it.
11. Learn to Handle Trolls
There are bound to be haters in all aspects of our lives. This is even worse when you are aspiring for a political post. It’s something you have to learn to deal with on the internet.
The freedom of speech inherent online gives all sorts of people the freedom to engage with you directly or indirectly.
As an important component of the digital marketing tips for political campaigns, you have to learn and be prepared to deal with them with the utmost level of maturity. You don’t let it put you off.
Your ability to handle online trolls may make or mar your online political campaign. Being that public officials cant blog people on platforms like Facebook, it will be wise to let your supporter do the fighting for you.
But when necessary, come in with clear explanations, if the troll was borne out of misinformation.
12. Share more Visual Content
Images and videos are a hit on digital media. People tend to love and interact more with visual content like graphics (images and videos) than they do with written text.
For all its worth, endeavor to integrate either videos or images into your digital marketing campaign communications if you want to win the online campaign war.
One very huge importance of posting visual content is that it’s primed for sharing. People easily click to share visual content thereby taking your campaign message further to their own followers.
13. Keep an eye on the Digital Strategy of Rivals
In traditional online businesses, successful digital marketers always keep an eye on strategies used by rivals. This way they are able to pick up certain things they may not be doing or those they are doing wrongly.
It shouldn’t be different with digital political campaigns. Candidates and their digital marketing team have to consistently monitor the online strategies of their rivals and pick up whatever they can, revamp it, and present it in a better way.
14. Go for a Multi-Channel Campaign
The world of digital marketing works best when you have various channels supporting and pushing each other to the top. This is one cardinal point of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Endeavor to link your campaign website to other user content generated sites like online forums and Q and A sites. ALso strongly use image and video sites like Pinterest, Youtube, and Vimeo.
You may be tempted to assume your fanbase or locals don’t use these sites often, but it goes beyond fanbase usage. By “link juice” metrics, these sites help the others which you love to grow higher and keep your news in the front pages
15. Use the right Digital Marketing Tools
There are many software tools that make digital marketing a breeze. You have to as much as possible integrate them into your online campaign.
Where it’s not expedient to buy them, you can always engage a dedicated digital marketing consultant with experience in online campaign management to handle them for you.
In today’s political space, using digital marketing tips for political campaigns has become inevitable. It’s no more a matter of if you should use it, rather it’s all about how you should draw up your online campaign strategies.
Politicians and political parties can use digital online marketing to do so much and help their campaigns achieve so much. From attracting volunteers to raising funds via donations and disseminating campaign messages.
Plus directly interacting with the constituents, digital marketing cannot be overlooked.
Are you a politician or political party and you need an experienced digital marketing consultant with experience in online political campaigns to work with you, be sure to consult me and my team.