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Election Tech: Why Social Media Is Stronger Than Advertising

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In a confusing and unconventional presidential election cycle, a clear trend emerged: data-driven marketing is the future of politics and business.

Image: iStock / Kagenmi

As the 2016 presidential primaries conclude, it is clear that technology, and especially social media, is a dominant force in politics. Although the number of users on Twitter has long been eclipsed by social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, the social media service remains in the first place among candidates, the media and voters. Mainstream candidates relied on proven corporate fundraising tactics. Insurgent campaigns – Sanders and Trump in particular – used Twitter to raise awareness and raise funds.

Trump used Twitter and social media to avoid large television ad spend and cut the cost of the campaign significantly, said Gretchen Littlefield, president of Infogroup Media Solutions. “Candidates have used social platforms, especially Twitter, to not only spread the news, but also to inspire their respective campaigns,” she said.

Littlefield stated that candidates also use social networks to spread news and inform voters about politics, and that voters listen to social signals. “Voters, donors, and US citizens in general turn to social networks to make voting decisions, and unless candidates have built a strong or engaged social presence, they will miss out on the votes they need.”

How do campaigns use data from digital platforms like Twitter instead of traditional media and reach voters directly?

It’s no secret that social media impacted the 2016 election like we’ve never seen it before. Donald Trump, for example, made Twitter an integral part of his marketing strategy himself, rather than using traditional tactics like TV advertising.

Politicians use social platforms to measure voter interest and find out what is really important to them. If a person regularly campaigns for women’s rights and posts about them on Facebook or Twitter, for example, social data can pick up on this and help politicians target these people with the right messages in a more targeted manner. With the right data-driven strategy, candidates will identify the right audiences on social media for both donations and voting.

READ: Seven Ways To Build Brand Awareness Into Your Digital Strategy (Tech Pro Research)

Obama was the first presidential candidate to use social networks as a resource and opportunity for conversation in 2008.

Today, social media has never played a stronger role in an election. Some politicians and voters are still learning to adapt. Since this is the first year that social affairs have had a major impact, it leaves room for improvement for the candidate [in future elections].

Data-driven marketing is the future of politics on all channels, especially in the social field.

What types of data are used by campaigns?

Campaigns use all kinds of data during this election, especially data from voter files. It is important to know if a person is registered to vote and what their party affiliation is. For example, if someone has been actively involved in environmental issues, a politician can use this information to target him or her in a more targeted manner. The most important thing you can do in a campaign is getting the right message across to the right audience, and identifying issues using data that is important to a person can help candidates communicate more effectively.

And do campaigns use social media to raise money?

Presidential candidates mostly use Twitter and Facebook as their main social platforms, but others use Instagram, Snapchat, and even Reddit to connect with audiences from all walks of life.

Donate buttons on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube make donating to a campaign easier than ever. After these users donate, they will also have the option to post about it on their respective platform, which will make the donation go viral on their networks. [Users who donate] Become a proxy for a campaign that candidates can use to their advantage, especially considering big data that already exists on social platforms. This data is unique in that it can help politicians target potential voters and funders.

In general, those who donate to political campaigns on social media plan to vote in the upcoming election as well. Again, candidates can use the data available to determine whether or not a donor has voted in previous elections.

What Can Companies Learn About Social Media Fundraising Tactics Used By Campaigns?

Small and medium-sized businesses can easily start using data to communicate with people who are interested in their products and services, just as candidates do. This means that they are using a data analytics platform that will help them identify top influencers and those who can be evangelists for their brands. Knowing which customers speak positively for you is just as important for companies as it is for any political candidate.

In the long run, this type of earned media is so much more powerful than paid advertising.

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