The Social Election

The start of a new year is the time when you hear words like "resolutions", "health" and "trends" all over the place. Year after year, it is a given. One "trend" we're excited about following in 2012 is the adoption of social media in the election cycle - from county sheriff in any county USA to the Presidential race - videos are being pushed to YouTube, social ads are being bought, the town hall is now Livestreamed on Facebook and status updates are being updated (and updated).

During the last major election cycle (2008), Obama was all over this and there are many of the opinion that it made a huge impact on the outcome...at least from a media standpoint. The other candidates, even the media hungry Palin, lagged way behind in their social savviness and organized activation.

This year, the landscape has changed, and everyone from the now defunct Herman Cain to Mitt Romney are making huge strides in the landscape with work that rivals the effective efforts of brands like Red Bull and Barbie. By all accounts, it will be the most "social" of all of the elections to date.

Top reasons why we think social matters in this election cycle:
  • Candidates must connect and activate with young voters
  • Facebook alone is the second most searched network and the power to reach by targeted interests can't be ignored...rich content that is highly targeted is where the conversion will happen
  • Word-of-mouth largely impacts the decision and action of consumers today. Social media acts as the firehose for this WOM - it literally just flows through social networks and channels. Harnessing and empowering WOM has to happen online within areas of social equity.
  • There is no better way to continuously message voters in a scalable way than by connecting with them on social media...reminding them of who a candidate is, why they are the clear choice and doing that frequently with content that feels 'special' and personal is the way to win. This is easy and should be done in all budget ranges...big and small.

Some leading election social trends we're tracking:

  1. Integration: the key to success for the candidates is the same as it is for brands...integration across paid, earned and owned media. Candidates who win will have active social advertising, be doing advanced targeting & behavior retargeting and will create compelling content that lives across platforms. Fundraising and early voter registration across the networks through apps and custom tabs is also key.
  2. Monitoring & Response: How many candidates are using one of the many social listening software packages to track and activate based on constituent conversation? Although listening in nature is quite reactive, the ability to mine and analyze consumer sentiment and conversation provides a huge advantage especially on the state level for candidates who do it well.
  3. Targeting: Luckily for candidates, we are in an age of over-sharing. This means that there is a ton of data around a consumers likes, interests, affinities and habits. There are also tons of services who can cross-link these behaviors and build a digital constituent profile. This is the sweet spot. On a much simpler level, simply targeting Facebook advertising by likes/interests/affiliations/marital status/age/gender is key. One of our clients Socialitical does just this for the political world. It's genius.
Are you tracking this year's election social efforts? To get a high level look at just how some of the Presidential candidates are doing, we're loving the data guys over at Social Bakers' new elections tracking dashboard which you can scope out here. Like all good data nerds, they've even put together a snazzy infographic (click to expand):
We look forward to all of the case studies that will hopefully emerge from this first extremely Social Election. In the interim, we're LIKING, following, Google Alerting and tracking the actions as they unfold. If you plan on voting, hopefully you'll do the same for the candidates that you are considering supporting.