When it comes to social media, political campaigns have to be smart and resourceful. Does that sound like running a business? Here’s what businesses can learn from candidates’ election machines.
Understand your social media audience
Going after undecided voters, or trying to switch voters’ opinions, is important. But political campaigns put more social media resources into communicating with hardcore supporters and energizing “the base.” Social media is a very inefficient way to directly reach people that are not already supporters. Businesses need to understand this. People that follow a candidate – or brand – are usually already fans or users. Social media becomes an efficient way of communicating with your supporters whether you need their vote or their business.
Getting valuable followers and friends takes work
Paying for or gathering social media supporters from other than legitimate sources is a waste of time and money for political campaigns. Campaigns spend millions not on buying followers and likes (you can’t buy votes!), but on organizing their supporters to join them on Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, a business should use its resources to move loyal customers or others already interested in their brand; consumers have to be naturally interested in what you have to say. Instead of buying followers or “likes”, put money into reaching your customer base.
Size doesn’t matter
The Internet is truly an even playing field for any campaign, and social media is the perfect example. Whether a person is running for dogcatcher or president, the tools and resources available to both candidates are the same, and scalable. The differences come in the creativity, time invested, and understanding the medium. Same goes for the “mom and pop” business and the mega-mart.
Use social media as your launch pad
Political campaigns often use social media as the platform of choice to make major statements or decisions public. They are usually preceded by traditional media build-up announcing the time and platform of the announcement, followed by even more media posts announcements. This allows the campaign to closely protect and control the message while promoting more “follows” on social media. Businesses should use these techniques too.
Spreading the message
Any entity, political or corporate, can achieve exponential reach when their followers and friends spread messages. Political campaigns post facts and figures that could potentially reach fence-sitters and sway voters. Likewise, businesses need to rely on followers and friends to redistribute messages to their networks.
An easy contact method
Social media is an easy way for supporters or potential supporters to reach a campaign, which can often seem big and out of reach. Any political or business organization needs to remember that social media is a 24/7 operation, and having a person or team monitoring and answering questions or concerns received via social media is as important as answering the phone or saying “thank you”at the checkout counter.
Understand who’s watching
Campaigns want as many of their supporters and friends to follow them as possible. But posting anything to social media draws the competition’s eyes too. Same goes for business. So don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your competition to match or improve upon. If you’re a business and you post a “big sale” to your Facebook page, make sure those sale prices are aggressive; it will be only a matter of seconds before the competition notices, and acts.
You can’t take it back
A post can go up and down in a minute. But you can never totally take it back. With the limited time a campaign has to get its message out, it cannot afford to be explaining something that shouldn’t have been posted in the first place. Businesses, while not under the same public scrutiny, should also be very careful before hitting that “post” button. A misplaced word could be the difference between announcing a new initiative or insulting a potential customer.
Social media travels fast
In politics, time is one of the most sought after resources; it is truly finite. So being the first out of the gate is very important. Social media bypasses traditional media and takes a message pubic on its own. This wasn’t available to campaigns, or businesses, just a few years ago. Social media lets you get your message out fast without relying on outside sources.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Having the most “likes”or more followers than the other candidates means nothing if those same people cannot be mobilized to vote. Campaigns also rely on those fans and followers to mobilize others. Businesses need to understand this premise. A social media campaign should not be done for the sake of itself, but should always be conducted with a specific goal in mind. For a business, customers vote with their pocketbook!