How Political Parties Are Leveraging Social Media & Smart Technologies

Social media and digital tech magnify the possibilities and opportunities for political campaigns to amplify and reach the maximum possible voter base, especially the millennial segment

Social media marketing is not only limited to businesses, brands and organisations. Even political parties are using social media in varied ways. They earmark a massive budget for the promotion of their political campaigns. Since its inception, the internet and social media have proved highly beneficial for different political and social issues. Shaping mass opinions, persuasion of the general public (including social groups and organisations), and spreading political propaganda are the core practices of political parties and organisations.

Social media and digital tech magnify the possibilities and opportunities for political campaigns to amplify and reach the maximum possible voter base, especially the millennial segment, a demographic that is the most active on these social networks. Digital has now become the norm, but parties do not realise the erstwhile unrecognised interest in employing digital tools for facilitating interaction with the target groups.

Social Media For Political Parties

Like companies and enterprises, successful political parties and organisations also need to build a brand with which their loyalists can identify. A robust political brand showcases what the party stands for, believes in, and looks at its problems and issues. For instance, social media is what worked in favour of the BJP in 2014. The party had started using social media before 2009 and has been leveraging social networks, political blogging and the internet, more than the traditional media platforms, for political campaigning.

Promoting the ideology of the party is easier and more effective on social media. Traditional media becomes a secondary channel that responds to the impact created by political parties over digital channels. Content in the form of images, videos, social media posts, memes, gifs, infographics etc., all work wonders. Since videos, memes and pictures are more conveniently shareable, they hence reach a larger audience.

Facebook, Instagram and Google have come to play an integral role in political operations. They offer a full range of commercialised online marketing tools and techniques, alongside specialised ’ad products’ designed mainly for political use. Targeted advertising on these social media channels is an excellent tool for political parties to reach out to and deliver their message to the people. Effective targeted advertising involves proper segmentation of the relevant audience. Segmentation and targeted advertising allow parties to deliver specified messages to specific groups of people.

Targeted advertising enables political parties to measure their voting campaigns’ efficacy, make necessary alterations to their political stance wherever required, and tap into a larger voter-base. Using psychographic targeting, demographic, and features such as lookalike audience, political parties can promote their party agendas to a far-flung audience. This is why political parties are heavily relying on these new-age media to drive more votes.

Rise of Data-Driven Political Campaigning

Although political campaigns have been using micro-targeting techniques involving a range of personalised data sets and marketing applications to persuade individuals and influence their actions, recent technological advancements and other innovations have created a more robust system compared to the previous ones in place.

With the help of specific analytics tools, parties can check the number of times a particular hashtag or political term has been used within a particular time. Similarly, one can also check the traffic brought in by a political blog or vlog, assess the audience engagement and measure its effectiveness.

Other new technologies have arisen on the scene to help political parties reach out to a broader voter base. Cross-device targeting is one such technology. Developing a complete picture of an individual’s persistent identity through an ‘identity-graph’ has emerged as a critical strategy for reaching out to consumers in their Omni-channel journey. This technology makes it easy to find out if the same person, who is browsing social media, is also using a smartphone and later a computer to watch a video. It’s via data on boarding that a customer’s particulars are matched with their online identification parameters – cookies, IP address and other consistent identifiers.

Then there is geolocation targeting. A host of new location-targeting technologies is used to identify and target consumers wherever they might go – say while driving a car, shopping in a mall, or visiting the gym. Programmatic advertising refers to the new and automated ways of buying ads and placing them on digital media channels using computer programmes and algorithms to find and target a customer wherever they may go.

Summing Up

Overall, political parties and organisations globally understand social media’s value in reaching out to millennial voters and how it heavily affects their political campaigns’ outcomes. Moreover, paid ads on social media provide more comprehensive targeting opportunities with customised messages for thousands of different audiences.

The author is Satya Yerramsetti, Founder & CEO, Telebu

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