Video: Political Marketing on Social Media


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At the start of April I gave a talk on Politics and Social Media   at the Rose and Crown. The aim was to provide some insights and learning to those involved in politics about how best to promote ideas and policies via social media. Over the weeks leading up to the talk I prepared my thoughts on the Status People blog , and now that the talk has been delivered it seemed natural to share them here alongside the video. So here we are!

Let’s begin…


There are three basic principles to sales and marketing. They are the connection, the dream and the value. Get those right and you should be able to make lots of sales. Note, this is tough. To highlight my points let me provide an example…

Recently I went to see a film — The Wolf of Wall Street . It’s brilliant, funny, sexy, intelligent — it’s got Leonardo Di Caprio in… Basically though the story is just about a talented sales guy, Jordan Belfort, who gets greedy and eventually crashes and burns.

For our purposes though at the start of the film there is a wonderful scene that provides an excellent example of great salesmanship. Mr Belfort has just been made redundant and is looking for a new job. He walks into a penny shares brokerage. It’s a rag-tag affair and Jordan, in his nice suit, looks well out-of-place. But he is interested in the operation and the great commission, so gives it a go. With his first call he makes a $4,000 sale.

Now what is directly observable is a great salesman selling a spurious dream of wealth and a fast buck to a new customer. For some, this is outrageous and exploitative. But, quite simply, it is neither of those things. It is miss-selling and probably fraudulent. It is not exploitative though — there is no force. What is less observable in the film is the initial connection between customer and company. The man who Belfort is talking to has responded to an advertisement. He has shown an interest in shares and making money from the stock market. When Jordan picks up the phone he is speaking to someone who has an interest in what he is selling. He’s not convincing some random person to purchase a random product they neither need nor want.

And this gets us to our first principle of sales and marketing. You cannot sell ice to an Eskimo unless they live in Nevada. To sell anything, there has to be a need, a desire, an interest. You have to have a connection with your potential customer. The idea that marketing and sales is exploitative or predatory is complete nonsense. Most of the time, if there is an issue, it is to do with the product not matching the sales pitch. Or a customer not fully understanding what they are purchasing. But the idea that a sale can be generated out of thin air is entirely spurious. There must be a connection.

Now this may not seem to link with politics. But the same principle applies. You’re not going to convince a communist of the importance of free market capitalism — ever. But you might convince a conservative or a republican or even an ‘anarchist’.

If you are going to attempt any form of political promotion you need to target those who are either interested or could be interested. Trying to convert those diametrically opposed to you is a waste of time and money. So understanding and targeting your potential market is very important.

And then you have to follow Jordan’s other two principles. There must be a dream and you must offer value. Your dream is of the future, how what you sell can help the person you are talking to fulfill their life or business aims? It’s the same question a communist or a libertarian must ask themselves. How will my theories improve people’s lives?

Value by contrast has to be more direct. In the here and now. You must offer your customer something that adds a little value to their life right now. Your proposition cannot remain a dream floating in the ether… Otherwise you will not see any engagement. In Jordan’s case his dream is one of paying off the mortgage and becoming an investor. His value is a fast buck. A massive return on a small investment.

Let’s take another example of the dream, value idea. For StatusPeople this is simple. The dream is that with more engaged, real followers you will as a marketer boost your ROI. That’s your aim, your dream. Our value is that we can tell you what your follower quality is and improve it right now.

In politics the dream is easy. It’s always been about utopia or something close to that… The problem is the value. How can my ideas and theories add value to someone’s life now or quickly. Sadly I can’t tell you what the answer to that is — that’s a question for far smarter people.

But to summarise if you want to sell anything — an idea or even a car. Define the dream, the value you offer and target those who you can connect with. It really is that simple — or difficult..?

What to sell? Content!

I’m going to discuss how to pick the right social network and deliver the right content.

There are many, many social networks now. But the three big players remain Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — and these are the networks we shall focus on. The rules we discuss however apply to most networks — and most marketing. Whether that be political or business.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of political marketing let’s define our networks. So what do we know?

  • Facebook: Over 1bn users; They share over 2.5 billion pieces of content per day; Focuses on friends and family; Negatives can costs to market and promote.
  • Twitter: Over 200m users; Over 500 million tweets per day; No particular focus, open network, great news source; Negatives how to grow a following.
  • LinkedIn: 180m users; Focus business relationships and news; Negatives overly focused

What we can see is each of our networks are very different and have their strengths and weaknesses. Also things are not as simple as they seem. You may assume that if you wish to connect with the largest audience you should use Facebook. But Facebook doesn’t make it easy to connect with your audience — usually it costs. Also while Twitter is much more open than Facebook or Linkedin — growing a legitimate and engaged following is difficult. It does not have the same initial connection points that LinkedIn and Facebook have.

Despite these issues there are two simple rules that you should always remember which will help you promote ideas on social networks…

  1. Always tailor your content to match the network it is published on.
  2. Make sure your content adds value to your followers’, friends’ and connections’ lives.

Let’s discuss tailoring your content. Facebook is generally used for connecting with friends and family — that’s its primary aim. Sadly friends and family don’t necessarily want to hear you talk politics. It may not add any value to their lives. But this does not mean you cannot discuss politics on your profile. You just have to consider who your friends are. Do they share your beliefs, are they interested in politics? If not don’t be overly political or preach too much. Maybe share amusing, light-hearted content on political subjects on an ocassional basis.

You could of course set up a page, which would attract those with specific interests. But unless you’re willing to spend some money it may be entirely pointless. And that’s without discussing the topic of ‘Like Legitimacy’ and spam.

By contrast LinkedIn is a business focused network. So again people don’t go on said network for politics. Instead it is a place to build business connections and learn about industry news. But this does not mean you cannot promote political ideas. And because it has a specific focus deploying the right content can be a little easier. In most cases your LinkedIn connections are going to relate to the industry you work in. So if you work in IT and have lots of IT based connections publish political content that relates to IT or whichever industry you work in. Don’t, for example, discuss the Common Agricultural Policy if you don’t work in farming…

Now, it may seem like Twitter is open season… Post anything to anyone… But that simply isn’t the case. You have to be consistent on Twitter and pick a niche. You should aim to be the go to source for certain information. So if your interest is gender politics publish political content that relates to that topic. Then people interested in that info will engage with you and you will have influence…

Once you have selected which networks to promote you ideas on you have to begin selecting and producing your content. There is one simple rule that you must follow when creating or sharing content — it must add value.

Adding value means that the person who accesses your content will gain something by doing so. And when selecting or writing content you should ask yourself the three following questions…

  1. Does it inform?
  2. Does it educate?
  3. Does it amuse?

If the content does one of those three things it adds value, so share it. And if it does all three of those things? Share it a lot..! Picking and producing good content will make you an expert, it will encourage people to engage with you and it will help you influence them.

So to review if you want to promote political ideas or any idea on social media tailor your content to your network and followers. And produce and share content that adds value.

If you follow those guidelines you will be successful. And you may just encourage a few new people to engage with your political ideas.

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