Few could argue against the fact that the manner in which then-candidate Donald Trump successfully leveraged his incredible social media presence and following during the 2016 primary and general election played a significant factor in his eventual electoral victory.
With the 2020 election season fast-approaching, incumbent elected officials and prospective candidates for office would be wise to waste no additional time in attempting to duplicate that successful result for themselves by growing and similarly leveraging a strong social media presence and following.
The Western Journal recently conducted an investigation and analysis into the data surrounding the Facebook pages of elected members of Congress, and while that analysis was largely focused on account interaction rates as they related to Facebook’s News Feed algorithms, it uncovered plenty of other relevant data as well.
Of the 463 members of Congress who maintained an active Facebook account, 315 of them had fewer than 20,000 followers. Those followers are worldwide and the data suggests that, on average, only about 50 percent of any given politician’s followers are actual constituents who could vote for them, meaning those members of Congress are followed on social media by only about 10,000 actual constituents.
Meanwhile, the 2018 midterm elections showed that the average winning candidate received roughly 125,000 votes. But if a candidate’s social media following of actual constituents is such a small percentage of the vote total needed for victory, how can it be leveraged to play a significant factor? Quite simply, by expanding their base of constituents on social media through the use of ad campaigns and data analysis.
It has been estimated that it costs about $3 to obtain a like and follow on Facebook from a constituent in any given city, county, district, state or zip code as part of an ad campaign, but that is arguably the best way to accumulate and grow a base of followers who are actual constituents on social media.
A successful ad campaign to attract new followers should run for 30 days — with the process repeated until Election Day — and involve the use of short videos, roughly 15 to 30 seconds in length, accompanied by written copy in a post. There should be multiple versions of the video and copy — which must be constantly analyzed both through Facebook and external artificial intelligence programs to find what works and what doesn’t — with the better performing ads garnering more play while poorly performing ads are dropped.
Considering the estimates that only half of all followers are constituents, along with the targeted vote total of about 125,000, candidates should aim for accumulating upwards of 100,000 followers — which would equate to about 50,000 votes — for a “winning base.” Candidates can also shoot for 200,000 followers, which would provide a “winning margin” by garnering about 100,000 votes from constituents, which wouldn’t count additional votes for the candidate from constituents who aren’t on social media.
However, gaining tons of followers is pointless if the candidate isn’t saying what those constituents want to hear to earn their votes. That means it is crucial that candidates learn as much as they can about what their constituents actually want.
One way to do this is simply by directly asking social media followers what they want — via an ad campaign — and then incorporating the answers received into the candidate’s campaign message. Another way to learn what constituents want is through the use of Data Acquisition Programs, which can utilize both artificial intelligence and questionnaires to determine the desires of constituents.
A useful thing about Data Acquisition Programs is that they can be malleable to focus on certain relevant factors — such as age, gender, race, etc. — or specific issues important to certain areas. This can provide important information that can be used to more effectively target other local constituents on social media that have yet to be added to the accumulated total of followers.
As previously noted, social media ad campaigns should be run early, often and continuously throughout the election season, as research has shown that — at least with regard to businesses and customers — constant and repeated contact tends to win over targeted customers, or in this case, constituents.
Research has further shown that an estimated 90 percent of Americans check their email or social media accounts within the first 15 minutes of their day, and check in again repeatedly throughout the day until they go back to sleep … as much as 300 times per day regularly for some, to as little as 80 times per day for people on vacation. What that means is that candidates need to seize the opportunity to consistently place their ads so people will not miss them, even at an acceptable minimum of one ad per day.
It is worth noting that the ads don’t necessarily have to be professionally produced to be effective, though they should be somewhat aesthetically pleasing and be clear and concise and focused on the topic at hand. Nor does the ad even need to be watched completely to be effective, as studies have shown that a watch rate of a mere 50 percent — meaning the viewer only watched about half of the video — indicates that particular view was “not an accident” and signifies the viewer is at least somewhat interested in what the candidate has to say.
In the end, we see a winning formula emerge from all of this: Accumulate as many social media followers as possible, ask and observe what constituents want from a candidate, formulate ads that directly address those wants and needs, express gratitude for the support of those followers to keep them hooked and then rinse and repeat until Election Day. In this way, a candidate can utilize social media and other technologies to not only gain a larger following and grow a closer relationship with them by paying attention to their desires, but also leverage that following and relationships into electoral victory.
Of course, the tech powers that be are not ignorant of this at all, which is in part one of the reasons why the tech giants have seemingly cracked down and censored certain, predominately conservative, voices in politics if only to avoid a similar outcome as what happened in 2016. That is why it is so important for elected officials and their constituents to push back against the tech giants and social media platforms in opposition to the censorship, in order that this incredible tool for reaching constituent voters and winning elections remains available to everyone, regardless of ideology.
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