There is no industry or area that hasn't been left untouched by social media. It wouldn't be wrong to say that social media has spread its tentacles into every realm that we interact with—travel, shopping, food, advertising, and the whole shebang. Apart from that, social media marketing has also become a go-to avenue for brands and individuals alike to connect with people, create awareness of their existence, forge relationships, and generate sales.
With all this said, could any one of us have predicted its monstrous popularity and impact on politics? As a company offering social media marketing services in Mumbai, we honestly, never thought that social media could be lapped up so enthusiastically by political parties.
But 2014 marked the official entry of social media in Indian politics—resulting in phenomenal levels of voter registration and attendance in elections. There's no doubt that for this year's elections—social media is going to be 'the tool' for political parties to reach out to their constituencies.
But it all has to be rooted in a firm and well-thought-out plan. Here's our guide for those who want to make a splash at 2019 political elections-
Don't wait up till the official announcement, work on your rapport from early on
Within the social media realm, every individual can elevate themselves to a brand. That can be applied to politicians as well. Which is why like any brand that enjoys generous following and engagement, politicians must also work towards forming an authentic bond with their supporters.
The idea to start early on—even before the official announcement of one's running for a post is made—is to essentially familiarize and build on one's political messaging. This message has to be aligned with one’s personal and political objectives—every tweet, every Facebook post, every YouTube video one uploads, needs to carefully convey what they stand for.
Mind you, the communication that takes place within the social landscape isn't one-way. As you have supporters, you have opposers who will analyze your every move and try their best to pull you apart in a bid to put you down. But if you have created a genuine connection with your supporters, detractors won't succeed much in their mudslinging activities.
Do not venture into the ferocious without a plan in place
Social media is fast and ferocious—it will be ten times more when the election campaigning is in the full swing. So if you don't have a carefully laid-out plan of action, you will either be trampled upon by opposition or wouldn't get a chance to get heard amid all the frenzy and noise.
You want to be absolutely sure what you are doing on social platforms. You don't want to be caught off guard or come across as a candidate with no clear purpose. A properly planned strategy will ensure that every communication that goes from your end is in keeping with your goal.
This goes without saying that you need to have well-defined goals—whether candidate-oriented or party-oriented. Know whether the campaign will revolve around an issue or the party or the candidate. If you wish to ignite a conversation or debate about a specific topic. All this has to be put down and discussed down to the last detail. The painstakingly precise your social media strategy, the more on-message it is, and the stronger its chances are of resonating with your online constituency.
Always be ready for the unknown and unexpected
As a company that provides social media services to politicians, we know that mistakes, errors, and goof-ups are an inevitable aspect of campaigns. We are all humans, at the end of the day. Whether it is publishing a misguided meme or sending out a tweet with a typo, mistakes can range from the absolutely shocking to ridiculous to passable. But at the time when the political machinery is at its most brutal, it is important to tread carefully.
In circumstances like these, you need to have a team in place that will do the necessary damage control. Sometimes, you also need a pair of eyes that are constantly scanning the on-going activities that unfurl during the elections. What they find is trending or creating waves can be blended into the messaging to bask in that which is being talked about. But that has to be done when the time is right, as they say, strike while the iron is hot.
Monitor your campaign from the ground up
The best thing about social media marketing is that you can determine how your people are responding to your campaigns real-time. Every social media has its inherent analytics tool or you can also opt for specialized third-party tools that provide insights into the campaigns.
This helps you better understand your audiences, how they are engaging with you, what kind of posts got them talking, what kind of posts garnered negative feedback or backlash, and more. Eliminate that isn’t working or working against you and work in that which will portray you authentically and positively. This will enable you to fine-tune your efforts and connect with them in the best possible ways.
Before we sign off, here are a quick few tips we’d like to share-
Tip #1: Be genuine, at all the time
Build your social presence on the foundation of authenticity. People are smart to know when they are being taken for a ride so stay true to your goals and avoid pretense at all costs.
Tip #2: If things go out of hand, don’t try to evade
God forbid, if you ever find yourself in the middle of a social crisis—do not jump the ship. Stay calm, try to tweak the situation in a positive way, without engaging in mindless and vicious back and forth. Deploy a damage control team to handle the crisis.
Tip #3: Be consistent in your efforts
Unlike traditional advertising, social media marketing shouldn’t be thought of as an election-specific avenue. It is less expensive to stay connected with your supporters. Being consistent in your efforts and talking about current events will help you be on their radar even post-election.
Tip #4: Invest in video content
Videos are emotion-heavy medium—make the most of them to communicate your message with your followers.
Tip #5: Acknowledge your supporters
Your supporters are your evangelists. By putting them at the heart of your narrative and highlighting their efforts by reposting will encourage others to follow you.