Originally posted on LinkedIn, Sept 7, 2015.
We're heading to the final stretch before the polling stations close, and part of me is relieved to know the fury of red and yellow will subside. I spent the majority of my adult life outside of Trinidad and Tobago, so this was my first full-blown Election experience, with interest in their use of Digital Media.
I had to convince one of the leading Ad Agencies to include Social Media in their portfolio. Fast forward six years later, I was quite impressed with the mere inclusion of Facebook and Youtube ads (yes, I'm happy by any growth). At the risk of being erroneous, I believe it's safe to say Politics fall under Public Sector and they have joined us, citizens, online. *insert round of applause here*
I can't know who said it was a good idea, and better yet who agreed, but when you enter the circle of social media trust, one must learn the rules before entering. As it's too late now for the parties with the bigger marketing budget, I'm hoping someone finds this rant in the next five years and suggests the following;
5. Understand your audience
One size does not fit all. There was no plan of execution for their digital campaign. One party had a bigger budget on Social Media; however, both failed at attracting a wider audience. Generation Y knows how to navigate the Facebook page to ignore your ads, worse yet we will download app blockers to target your name and anything that resembles it. If you are joining our party, understand our language, stand out and find a way to capture our attention.
4. Build Rapport with Communities Online
So I was schooled on the term Cottage Meetings, the concept intrigued me and sounded like politically driven focused groups. Similarly, there are multiple NGOs with Facebook pages. Why are their posts not on the popular political party facebook pages praising what these organisations are doing? Digital platforms allow any entity to replicate your offline efforts with lesser output. Just make sure to remember #5 before you start.
3. Do you know what I need?
Apps seemed to be the popular choice, and I am not sure what they do, regardless I was not inclined to download them. However, if any party created an app which anonymously allowed me to share my views on any given subject, I'll be all up in that! It could even go beyond just my opinion and include my age, location, gender and anything relevant to winning a campaign. Imagine the St Augustine candidate specifically referencing an issue on the podium that was discovered using the data gathered? Now that may not get me to put on their colour and go to a rally, but I may turn on the television.
2. Social Integration
For a twin-island who gets integration so well offline, we suck balls online. There are not many places in the world where Muslims, Hindus, Baptists, Catholics, and so many more that can live in harmony. That will forever be my #1 admiration for our society. Somehow I thought that would translate to our approach to digital touchpoints. That seamless integration of social media, website, offline ads and general brand awareness is possible. Maybe it's the Nirvana of Digital Marketing. I hope to live to see the day. #DreamsDoComeTrue
1. Ah Love Ah Hashtag
It may annoy coders to see the evolution of Hashtags, but I will never apologise for my excessive use of them. That's why my major disappointment with these digital electoral campaigns is the lack of hashtag usage. It could have gone so differently and included the nation's issues that are relevant to specific areas of the islands. Be honest, do you care about that pothole in Arima? Not unless you have been mandated to go beyond the lighthouse (yes, I'm a North gal :)). Outside of the general campaign slogans, there was so much that could be done with viral Hashtags.
With that said, I am still elated to see the inclusion of digital and happy that the importance of social media goes beyond the private sector. One question remains; will the use of Digital continue regardless of who wins the elections?
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