As the 2012 Presidential Election comes to a close this evening, there are several social media marketing lessons that can be taken away from this year’s campaign. Some of these include how to find competitor missteps and capitalize on them, how to learn to laugh at yourself in public and cry only in private and how to accomplish these things and still be able to have dinner and smile at each other to save face when summoned. But in all seriousness, it is no secret as to how much social media and the Web can influence the way society views an organization, brand or public figure.
This level of influence at a political level was first seen in 2008 when then Senator Obama defeated John McCain and took over as President in what has now been coined as the first “social media election.” President Obama’s grass root campaign gained a steady momentum through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Voters were able to interact with the candidates and, for the first time, were able to share their thoughts, photos, opinions, videos, etc. via platforms that did not exist just four years prior.
Fast-forward to 2012 and not much has changed when it comes to the role social media has played in this year’s election. According to SEO Vote 2012, as of November 5, 2012 Mitt Romney had almost 12 million likes on Facebook and 1.6 million followers on Twitter, while Barack Obama had close to 32 million fans on Facebook and 8.6 million Twitter followers. Although the two candidates have clearly tried to make an impact in the social media space, neither of the campaigns let the buck (pun intended) stop there. They collectively spent over $175K in Google AdWords campaigns alone.
So what valuable lessons can a marketing executive take away from this year’s election? Here are just a few:
- Don’t be the last in your industry to join the social media space. Whether you like it or not, social media has become a standard fixture in today’s marketing world. SMM can play an invaluable role in the way customers view your brand and can mean the difference between having a one-time customer or lifetime customer.
- Use the Web to build brand awareness. Both candidates have their campaign logos splashed all over the Web; so even if you have been living under a rock for the last six months you will know who the horizon “O” and the double R’s stand for. Make your brand/logo a household name by staying visible and becoming easily recognizable.
- Don’t be afraid to get the data. On the Websites for President Obama and Governor Romney there are e-mail capture forms that visitors see before they are ever taken to the homepages. While this may seem a bit aggressive in nature for an organization trying to earn consumer business, many companies are now highlighting their newsletter sign-up box, presenting it as a floating device that customers see when they first visit their site and/or presenting it as a valuable resource filled with incentives and perks the customer won’t want to miss out on.
- Define your target audience and create a message just for them. While some products, such as toothpaste and tissue paper will appeal to the masses, most companies have a much smaller target audience they are trying to reach. After figuring out who this ideal customer is create a targeted message just for them. This will allow you to speak directly to these customers and present your case as to why they should choose your company over the competition.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained. With a combined total of over $175K being spent by both campaigns in Google AdWords alone, it goes to show how important an online advertising budget can be to stay competitive. Whether it be hiring an SEO firm to manage your social media efforts, write content, optimize your site or run your PPC campaigns, spending the funds to help solidify your Web presence is the key to staying competitive in today’s market.
As we wait on pins and needles to see who our next President will be, who do you think won this year’s election from a social media standpoint? Do you think this will have any correlation to who will win tonight? At any rate, GO Democracy!