As the political battle heats up gearing towards the November Presidential election, the candidates more than ever are turning to digital media to give them the edge in this election cycle. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was hailed by social media and digital marketing experts as the first campaign to properly use the internet to gain support. Many felt it was this tactic that propelled him into the Presidency.
The ability to use digital marketing and social media in particular to allow your supporters to become your ‘brand champions’ is a tactic commonly used by the biggest of corporations down to the smallest of startups. President Obama and his team achieved his historic ascend to the office of the President by appealing to loud niches – not just buying Twitter followers – but by taking his message to Facebook, Reddit, and more. His 2008 campaign rhetoric was noticeably more liberal than his term in office. Thus, his social media campaign was geared towards liberal niches – It was that message that drew a record number of young voters.
This time around, the appeal of being a part of history and electing the first black president is no longer with him. With a stale message, he and his team are forced to re-strategize on how to best use social media while he as a candidate, comes off the pedestal he was placed on in 2008 and back into the real world. When on even playing field with his Republican counterparts, the only way President Obama can gain a new term is by selling the country on his policies of the past 4 years. By again turning to digital media where he was once successful, President Obama has the chance to make his case on why his term should be deemed effective and why his strategies going forward are the ones that will propel the country into both short and long term gains.
The primary issue of this campaign (and most) is controlling your message and effectively dealing with misinformation. It is the responsibility of his marketing team to ensure the message he wants out there is both loud and targeted. To add an interactive element to his campaign and steer the message, the Obama/Biden camp released an online tax calculator. Staying away from often-divisive social issues, a tax calculator is personal to the individual and affects every household in America, ensuring the broadest reach. For many voters it can be difficult to see through the gimmicks; to properly understand a candidate’s tax policies and how it affects them and their families. This puts it in perspective. While some may argue as to where they feel tax cuts should happen for the sake of the country, seeing your own savings vs. those that make more or less salaries than yourself helps to make the changes in your family’s finance that much more real. At least, this is what the Obama camp is hoping for.
This online calculator allows you to enter your yearly household income, and then shows you both President Obama’s tax plan in comparison to Governor Romney’s. Depending on what your household income is and the amount of dependants claimed, it displays your annual savings to the IRS under the President’s first term, the upcoming year, and under Governor Romney’s proposed plan. More importantly, it features a ‘share’ function for Facebook that helps to spread the word. It’s a great use of social media to directly connect with the voter base as well as control the message about your policies and how they influence the individual.
Unfortunately for President Obama, Paul Ryan is no stranger to social media. Ryan has the advantage of huge support from his base. Obama’s once dependant liberal base is not as strong as it was in 2008, namely because of his own policy changes, while Paul Ryan has overwhelming support from the conservative base. The conservative base has been asking for a true conservative running mate for Romney and the Ryan camp will turn to digital media to spread the message.
With more followers than House Speaker Boehner even before his selection, this popular candidate among Tea Party voters is sure to get them to the polls. Ryan was able to add about 6,000 Facebook fans during his 15 minute introductory speech in Virginia. The Tea Party’s ability to mobilize their communities through social media will play a major role in this election. As long as Ryan continues to engage his followers on social media (as he’s become very good at), voters will always feel connected to him.
His tagging of colleagues when addressing issues and his direct responses to individuals demonstrates the qualities that many companies are terrible at – communication. His social networking is very much a two way street, and not just a megaphone. With 272,000 Facebook ‘likes’ already, he’s quickly gaining momentum on current Vice President Joe Biden at 359,000 likes. In the Twitter Department, Biden registers nearly 111,800 followers while Representative Ryan comes in at 123,000. Not bad for someone that only jumped into the national spotlight a few weeks ago, compared to the 4+ years Joe Biden has been in the limelight.
Look for both parties to get even more creative with digital media closer to November. This year again, we can see digital marketing have a profound effect on the outcome of the election.