Digital Marketing is not just limited to brands, businesses or organizations. Political parties use digital media marketing in complex ways and spend lots of budget for the success of their political campaigns.
Internet and social media have been used for various social and political causes since their inception. Influencing mass opinions, persuading people, groups and organizations, propaganda, and many more are the core practices of political organizations and parties. Digital media and the Internet magnify the opportunities and possibilities for this, and thus, provide a huge leverage for political parties.
Let us now look at the ways political organizations/parties use digital marketing to influence politics, attract votes and enough voters.
Establishing/Projecting their Political Brand
Just like businesses/companies, a successful political party also needs a brand. Projecting a strong political brand shows the people what the party believes in, what it stands for, how it views the citizens’ issues and problems.
And this is what brought victory to the BJP in 2014. The party started using social media even before 2009 and has been utilizing social media, political blogging, and the internet much more than traditional media in their political campaigns. And more often, it is their activity on the internet that puts them in the spotlight even on news channels and newspapers.
Their campaigns like ‘My First Vote for Modi’ and ‘Mai Bhi Chowkidar’ made a phenomenal impact and brought a new dimension to the political usage of hashtags in India. These hashtags were booming social media in 2019 which was the time of the election.
Promoting Their Party Ideology
Promoting party ideology is much easier and effective on the internet. Parties need not rely on traditional media but rather use them as secondary channels that respond to the impact that these parties already make with or without using them. Content Marketing is a primary means of promoting party ideology.
Content in the form of social media posts, videos, images, blog posts, infographics, memes, gifs, etc. all can be employed in the process. Videos, images, and memes are more easily shareable and hence reach more audience.
Segmentation of People & Targeted Advertising
Targeted Advertising is a great tool for political parties to deliver their message to people. But for effective targeted advertising, proper segmentation of audience is needed. Through segmentation and targeted advertising, political parties can deliver certain messages to certain groups of people.
For instance, the Trump campaign has devised a strategy of ‘voter suppression’. Relying heavily on Facebook’s targeted advertising system, they have identified specific voters who were not supporters of Trump and targeted them with psychographic messages designed to discourage them from voting.
Targeted advertising provides a great advantage for political parties through which they can measure the efficacy of their political campaigns, make necessary changes to their political stance based on the responses they receive and effectively reach a higher audience. Using demographic, psychographic targeting, and features like lookalike audience, political parties can effectively reach a more relevant audience and promote their party agendas.
Effective Use of Social Media
“Social media helped me win.” This is what the US President Donald Trump said regarding his victory in the 2016 US presidential election.
Social media platforms are the main tools of campaigning for politicians and political parties. And interestingly, they need not do a lot of hard work to get their word to the public. They just get a message out and let their followers do the work. This is applicable for individual politicians as well as parties.
Twitter and Facebook are the two channels that politicians rely on much due to their high political reach and engagement. While individual politicians can occasionally interact with their followers, political parties often use social media as an advertising channel. They pump out their messages in the form of tweets or posts, and their followers do all the active work, like sharing, reposting/retweeting, commenting and creating a dialogue.
Social media is a great tool to create political tension among the people. Without even interacting directly with the people, political parties can create buzz, tension, and difference of opinion among the people through their posts. And the effectiveness multiplies with the relevant use of #hashtags in their tweets or posts.
WhatsApp Groups and Communities
Political parties are ahead of brands when it comes to the use of WhatsApp. Political representatives and local leaders are known to form communities using WhatsApp Groups which distribute political messages that can reach the whole party’s follower base across the nation through WhatsApp forwards. Planning events, protests or online activities are also done on WhatsApp groups.
Publishing political messages and stories are not enough, their impact and engagement need to be measured to come up with new and effective political strategies. This is where analytics tools come into the picture. Using Social Media Analytics tools, politicians can measure their reach (how many people viewed their tweet), engagement (retweets/shares, likes, comments), and overall impact. Analyzing the data is important because, depending on the responses they are getting, they can change their political strategies and narratives accordingly.
Using certain analytics tools, one can check how many times a particular political term or hashtag has been used during a time period. Similarly, one can check the traffic a political blog or vlog, analyze the audience engagement and measure its impact.
Even after introducing a simple hashtag, for example, one can check its impact by searching for the hashtag on a particular social media platform. One can then look at various posts and reposts with the hashtag to know the opinions of the public on that particular issue and use the data to come up with political strategies accordingly.
Internet and social media are full of political propaganda and that is for a reason. Partial facts, distorted narratives attract the audience so much that they themselves drive the political campaigns as intended. Content in the form of blog posts, videos, posts/tweets, images, etc. that can be easily shareable are used for political propaganda.
While traditional media like TV news channels, newspapers and magazines have already been using the technique of propaganda to get their messages to the public, the internet and social media are the places where they get distributed and reach the highest numbers of audience.
The level of engagement and reach is much higher on the internet than that of traditional media because of the ability of the audience to communicate, interact with each other and seamlessly share their opinions and ideas. This is what makes the internet and social media to be of high interest to political parties to attract voters.