Everybody is on social media. As per Hootsuite, almost 49% of the global population, around 3.8 billion people are active on social media platforms. So this is a great opportunity to shape and influence certain ideas and create a wave of thought. There are innumerable social media platforms and applications vying to grab the user attention and to be able to leverage their unique communication format smartly in all spheres of life is a pinnacle of all marketing activities.

It was Howard Dean, the ex-governor of Vermont (1991-2003) who was accredited with the first ever usage of digital media for campaign fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Dean’s website known as Meetup had blogs, campaign sign-ups, and virtual meeting space where like-minded people interacted with each other. This was one of the first most notable digital based political campaigns aimed at building a certain brand identity amongst a targeted sect of people and connecting each of them on the basis of similarities.

The next big political campaign was driven by Facebook when it acted as a platform for Democrat John Kerry’s presidential election campaign in 2004. This campaigning gimmick was closely observed across the globe and as of today we have no dearth of examples on how different social media platforms have acted as powerful tools for building up a mass opinion both for and against.

Social Media Marketing and Politics

As per CEO World Magazine, here is an exhaustive list of top 15 social media platforms predominantly used across the globe in 2019.

  1. Facebook- 2.27 billion users
  2. YouTube- 1.9 billion users
  3. WhatsApp- 1.5 billion users
  4. Facebook Messenger- 1.3 billion users
  5. WeChat- 1.08 billion users
  6. Instagram- 1 billion users
  7. QQ- 803 million users
  8. QZone- 531 million users
  9. Douyin / Tik Tok- 500 million users
  10. Sina Weibo- 446 million users
  11. Reddit- 330 million users
  12. Twitter- 326 million users
  13. Douban- 320 million users
  14. LinkedIn- 303 million users
  15. Baidu Tieba- 300 million users

So from the above it is clear that Facebook tops the chart when it comes to reach with a staggering 2.27 billion users across the globe. Now the challenge is to understand whether a political party leverages only this tool or uses a strategy that involves a multi-tool option. This calls for constant deep diving into data analytics offered by each of these tools. Hence it is extremely important for any digital marketer driving a political campaign to have a solid backbone of social media marketing. Executive Programme in Digital Marketing & Social Media Marketing Strategy offered by IIM Calcutta is crafted by digital and social media marketing experts, the course aim’s to offer professionals a better understanding of how one can uniquely leverage social media tools and create impacts in building and branding ideas and people.

The Game Plan

The idea of harnessing social media for digital marketing rests on important principles:-

  • Social media platforms must be used as a part of the overall integrated marketing strategy and not as the only strategy for connecting with the audience at large.
  • Content needs to be aptly designed for each social media tool; a generic approach will not work.
  • Feedbacks on social media are real time and therefore, the response needs to be real time too.
  • Leveraging social media analytics is necessary to measure a party’s reach and success of its activities.
  • Each social media tool comes with its uniqueness and not all tools are apt for a campaign. The effectiveness of a tool largely depends on the nature of the target audience.

The success of an electoral campaign conducted over social media is dependent on how well the digital marketer understands the heart and mind of the target audience. A mere understanding of social media would not come for critical campaign building. For this, one needs a strong foundation of social media marketing.