Dave Eggers’ 2013 Orwellian International Bestseller, The Circle, tells of an Internet monopoly on the verge of virtual omnipotence through pervasive data collection on almost every single aspect of our lives– be it public or intimate. One of the (less malevolent) features of their proposed system requires all eligible citizens to vote by simply using a handy digital armband– literally putting the power of election into their hands.
We’re not voting via Apple watch just yet, but we do wield the power to persuade and influence our constituents with each and every smartphone in hand. From Trump’s wildly polarizing and popular Tweets, to Clinton’s multi-app usage (her campaign’s utilized apps like Snapchat & Periscope), to Bernie Sanders’ cross-platform hashtag (#feelthebern), social media is HUGE in this election year. While much activity seems to occur in real-time– and it often does— it’s worth remembering that every tweet and post is part of a much larger strategy in place. Here’s what the next POTUS will have had to have done on social media to be Commander in Chief:
- Attack On Multiple Fronts
Apply this one to any online marketing strategy, really.
Targeting Baby Boomers or Gen X? Establish a strong following on Facebook or Twitter, because that’s where they spend their time. Reaching out to a large (and potentially undecided) Millennial and Gen Z demographic? They’re on almost every platform out there– including Facebook and Twitter. However, your campaign would stand to benefit by maintaining a presence on apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine in order to better get to them.
- Be Immediate In Your Response To Current Events*
This advice comes with a caveat, so take heed. Obviously, immediate response should be one of a candidate’s top priorities. Not-so-obviously, these prompt responses need to be better thought out. Why?
Sending condolences, for example, is nice over a phone call, but it’s useless on social media. Expect heavy snark and cynicism from the “adoring public” if all you squeeze out is the standard “thoughts and prayers” statement, in the wake of tragedy. In this day and age filled with witty and knowledgeable social media users, it can be perceived as self-serving.
My advice: peep what the competition’s response is first, then come up with a decisive and proactive statement that speaks on the more deep-rooted issue at hand. Not only will you set yourself apart from the cliches, but you’ll actually be contributing to dialogue, instead of inducing backlash.
- Be Authentic
While this may sound obvious, it must be pointed out that authenticity has to be… well, authentic. Confused? Don’t be.
The peril lies in the inability to walk the fragile line between relating to and reaching too hard for voters. All it takes is one tiny misstep to fall into the deep abyss that is “hashtag hell.” Prime example: #notmyabuela exposed the fatal flaw of comparing Hillary Clinton’s privileged background to the sort of immigrant struggle that one can only truly understand by living through.
Missed the memo? The Twitter Mob will appear at your door with torches, prepared to hijack your precious hashtag in return, often with cringe worthy (but hilarious) results. My suggestion: identify with them through the issues they hold closest and propose solutions to their unique problems, instead of a labored, synthetic attempt at relatability. Acknowledge the cultural and class divides between you and your audiences, or come off as insensitive and disingenuous.
- Be Bold, Assertive, & Brutally Honest
This final point may sound extreme, but social media platforms have long been the place to make politically incorrect statements without much accountability. Your average presidential candidate will not have that luxury, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why one certain candidate has made the biggest splash, in terms of headlines. In fact, he’s managed to incorporate ditching political correctness into his plan to “make America better.”
While not everyone has it in them to be as flamboyant or frank as Donald Trump, there’s nothing wrong with “telling it like it is,” while still being able to nail your points home. If you’re not confrontational, simply taking a firm stand and asserting your point is effective. Whichever one of these paths you choose, just keep in mind that it’s the most outspoken candidates who not only garner the most attention, media scrutiny, and support, but tend to lead the polls*. Honesty is the best policy in 2015, appreciated by both old and young demographics alike.
*nature of publications hosting polls contributes to skewing of results, due to readership/party affiliations
**This article does not endorse any single candidate nor does it represent the political views of Bolt Digital or any of its employees.