Reading Time: 3 minutes
Values still play a major role but, since the Internet revolution, politics became a whole new science. One that requires data scientists, unconventional PR agents and, of course, digital marketers. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are battling for their place in the White House, there’s a lot of attentive people analyzing their online presence. “What will they do next?”, we all ask, but I’m certainly not the one with the answers.
Political affiliations aside (Please, vote for Underwood!), I believe that digital marketing and politics have a lot to learn from each other. In such a recently explored area, everything that has to do with online ethics becomes a bit of a grey zone. But, if we look to the Internet as a channel for reaching and connecting, I’m sure we all can make a really good use of it. By “we”, I mean everyone, from companies to political campaign managers.
Unlike any niche I’ve seen, this particular one can be very competitive. Having a share of 40% of the market would be great for any company. However, if you are in politics, 40% of the votes don’t grant you the victory. In order to succeed, strategies must be not only very goal-oriented: they also must be structured into phases. In fact, working as a campaign manager is almost like a long run, in which you must stay strong until the very end.
On their way, they can choose an unconventional path and make their strategy more interesting than the one used by the competitors. Although, winning is what matters the most. Quoting Jeff Cosgrove, from Conversant:
“Working on a political campaign is like being in a start-up that plans to go out of business the day they go-live. If you win, you’re a winner, no matter what. You could have run an innovation campaign, but if you lose, you’re a loser.”
Here or anywhere in the world, I’m sure you can name a few presidents that won because they didn’t have a strong competition. And that’s possibly one of the most valuable lessons you can take from politics: always check your competitors and act accordingly. From PR to social media, almost everything is about context and timing. So, we all must make sure we choose the right moment to take advantage of the opportunities.
Barack Obama and his great example of what should be done
Calm down, I’m not an Obama supporter, the same way I’m a not a supporter of any political candidate. But, being part of the people who work in the digital business, I can admit that his team delivered an impressive job. From appearances on entertainment, TV shows to singing during his speeches and sharing Spotify playlists. Barack Obama did what only a few politicians made, exploring new channels and connecting with people like no one ever did.
In 2012, when the first black president of the United States was going for his second run on the White House, he innovated by treating his e-mail subscribers as “Friends”, a digital marketing maneuver that could easily be made by any informal company. On the other hand, social media channels have also been used by Obama and other politicians to give voice to social causes and advocate for what they believe. Awareness, you see.
Making politics less formal and more human
Like brands cannot be resumed to a price, politics can no longer be resumed to arguments. There are a lot of elements that should be considered, from the expressed emotions to the social status users can get by supporting a specific candidate on social media.
Supporting Hillary as the first woman president of the United States can be a statement for women emancipation, the same way Barack Obama appealed to the African-American community. Even if we say these characteristics are not that relevant (and, in fact, they aren’t in terms of overall competence), they still matter because they allow us to relate with politicians for the human beings they also are.
Like brands (that are becoming more human), politicians are also gradually less “institutional”. Look, for instance, to Hillary’s 404 page. Isn’t that a really good way to get to a younger target? I also think so.
The importance of big data
If you got previous references (blog post image included), I admit it: I’m really a huge fan of House of Cards.
Aside from being an extremely good TV series (believe me, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright couldn’t be any better!), the show introduced a very important subject that usually people don’t bother: big data. I’m sure you already heard of it, and you probably know one or two companies that gather as much information as they target the way they communicate in a very impressive way.
Similar tactics have been used in politics the same way digital marketers do their research when they look for the potential of a specific geographical area. The same way you use Google Trends or Keyword Planner to evaluate volumes of search and quantify the interest in your niche, political campaign managers also evaluate trends and see which topic will have a major impact on a specific community.
After all: apart from the context, both marketing, and politics – and communication, in general – share the one same goal: get into people’s minds and build positive or, at least, favorable relationships.