What marketers can learn from the unusual 2016 election
Oct 3, 2016
We’ve seen time and time again how the introduction of a new medium can change and shape politics.
For Franklin Roosevelt, it was the radio, which not only catered to his strength in rhetoric, but veiled his physical limitations.
For John F. Kennedy, it was the television. The first presidential debate televised was between JFK and Richard Nixon, and it depicted a visible contrast between Kennedy, healthy and confident, and Nixon, pale, perspiring and underweight from a recent hospitalization.
For Barack Obama, it was the Internet. Obama’s 2008 campaign was the first in history to harness the power of social media to garner support and get people engaged.
Eight years later, social media is more engrained, diverse and transformative than ever. From Instagram ads to Snapchat stories, social media has completely changed the look, feel and tactics of presidential campaigns. In order to run a successful campaign, candidates can no longer avoid establishing a social presence.
2008 is commonly referred to as “the Facebook election.” If that is the case, what is the 2016 Election? The SnapChat election? The digital marketing election? And what can marketers learn from observing these candidates?
To break through the noise and make an impact on voters, political messaging can no longer look like the age-old political ads of the past. Social media is inherently informal, personal and off-the-cuff, and each platform has it’s own flavor. As an example, one of Clinton’s most talked-about and memorable statements was not one of policy or experience, but a three-word tweet to Trump: “Delete your account.” It was perfect for Twitter in its brevity and tone, and had an impact on shaping her persona. Marketers should note that it’s not always the substance of what you say, but where and how you say it that has the greatest effect.
Because the landscape of social media is ever-changing, trying new things and pushing boundaries is always a good idea. According to the Clinton campaign, more than 40 million people in the United States speak Spanish, and the campaign recently launched a Spanish-language website and Twitter account. Additionally, in order to reach millennials and college students, her campaign sponsored SnapChat geofilters for the Republican National Convention with cheeky messages that jab at Trump.
Perhaps no candidate in history, however, has been more daring than Trump, and he is reaping the rewards. Controversy draws eyes and ears and, as a result, Trump seems to always be making headlines. TV News stations cover stories on Trump three times more than stories on Clinton. While brands may not want to dive in headfirst into controversy, marketers can help brands form an opinion, take a stand, and be unafraid to experiment with different tactics.
A number of digital platforms, such as Snapchat, adopt the attitude of “here today, gone tomorrow.” With a constant stream of new content filtering through a multitude of devices, today’s audience lives in the moment. Election news will be big for a day, and then disappear. Candidates must constantly push out new content to stay top-of-mind with voters. We’ve seen this in the Clinton campaign, which posts more than 200 Instagram photos and videos per month, as well as in the Trump campaign, through his Twitter feed that apparently never sleeps. Marketers should make note of this landscape and continually produce relevant content to engage their audiences and prevent their brands from becoming yesterday’s news.
This election has been unconventional and unpredictable, yet the level of engagement among voters is historically unprecedented. Regardless of which way you lean, both candidates’ campaigns offer a number of insights on how to stand out in the market in this day and age.
Can you think of more takeaways for marketers from this election? Let me know on Twitter.