Social media has been one of the best things to happen to political marketers around the world, and especially in the US. This year’s GOP candidates for the presidential race have proven to be exceptionally savvy when it comes to using social networks as marketing platforms, with multi-channel approaches, rich media posts and community building strategies.
Some GOP candidates have even endorsed network marketing companies in the past. Some of the better network companies, as it turns out, have recommendations from Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Elections are not won on Facebook or Twitter, but there’s no denying the viral element that social networks foster, when it comes to pushing content to targeted audiences and watching it spread in a matter of seconds.
Let’s look at some of the most outstanding social media tactics the candidates have employed:
1. Live tweeting debates
Whether it’s their own debate or even a Democratic debate, Republican candidates have been exceedingly active on Twitter. Donald Trump, for example, decided to live-tweet the Democratic debate on October 13th.
A well-prepared Ben Carson also tweeted:
Takeaway: Live tweeting is an excellent way to gain more followers and engage in an online race against your competition. A candidate may have 50k followers but their tweets can reach 500k people, as they go viral.
2. Q&A engagement posts
A tactic that Ben Carson recently used to garner over 21,848 likes and 4,510 shares, by answering fans questions on Syrian refugees and Isis.
This is a real evolution from the direct “Vote for me” posts that candidates have used in the past. Social media is about communities and conversations, and Carson seems to understand that with this post.
Trump employed the same tactic, but for Twitter this time, using the hashtag #AskTrump in a campaign that had a 972,680 reach and gained 1,485,041 impressions in the past month according to Keyhole.co:
Takeaway: Show your fans and followers that you value their opinion and engage them in conversations built around common topics and interests. This will not only foster fan loyalty, it will also attract more people into your online community.
3. Leveraging the power of video
Marco Rubio issued a timely video response to the Paris attacks, that got over 30 000 views in only 2 days:
Media outlets immediately used this video to push further their individual agendas and, ultimately, help the video go viral:
Having one of the largest subscriber bases among the candidates on YouTube, Rand Paul also posts a video every few days. His publicity stunt video How Would You Kill the Tax Code? went viral 2 months ago, proving the power of social video:
Takeaway: Video is one of the most powerful digital strategies right now. But it has to be done right. Create an attractive channel and take the time to record and edit your videos with some of the good case practices we talked about in mind.
4. Using catchy hashtags
At the beginning of his campaign, Ted Cruz successfully managed to mobilize a huge blast of 75,000 tweets from his online supporters, using the hashtag #CruzCrew. The conversion on those 75,000 tweets was 1.1 billion Twitter impressions, breaking social media records. The hashtag is still being used by his fans, bringing in thousands of impressions:
Takeaway: Help your content go viral using smart hashtags. Research similar hashtags beforehand, test your own ideas and track the performance of the chosen hashtag as the campaign progresses.
5. Creating easy-to-digest, sharable posts
And passionate at that. Carly Fiorina gave a perfect example of a short and to-the-point post, with an impressive reach both on the social network, as well as in media coverage:
Turning to social media enables candidates to reach quickly and reach a huge number of people, as well as get press attention. A prerogative that marketing strategies did not provide in the past.
Takeaway: Online fans and followers have limited time and a short attention span for which every pop-up, post and ad is competing. Make sure your content is organized, easy to read and easy to skim in case of longer texts, as Ron Taylor of Host Authority points out.
6. Using live streaming apps
A new and bold technique even for regular business marketers, live streaming is gaining a lot of ground with presidential candidates this year.
After all, Donald Trump’s revealing of his tax plan on Periscope is one strategic move that marketers won’t forget too soon:
Proving this to be an already established tactic, Ted Cruz also turned to Periscope to broadcast one of his events:
In fact, many of the GOP candidates have live streaming accounts on Meerkat (Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum) and almost all of them are Periscope users, with a few exceptions.
Takeaway: Live streaming can help you connect with viewers on a deeper level, as events are unfolding. It leverages the power of video and offers a key timing, to generate user reactions. The people who are tuning in are actively interesting in listening to what you have to say so make sure your message is clear, relevant and compelling.
Social media has become an indispensable campaign tool, that GOP candidates are turning against each other in a frenzy for voters impressions and clicks, but also to get constant media coverage. Another significant objective that drives GOP social media strategies, and one of the most important in marketing, is revenue. Candidates are using social networks to crowdfund their campaigns and attract investors.
All in all, even though polling can’t rely exclusively on the number of social followers and impressions that a candidate has, these social tactics and metrics can bear a significant influence on the final outcome of the race, as the Obama campaign demonstrated so skilfully in the past.