Five tactics you should expect to see on social media this election cycle

In Social & Digital Media by Amelia Quilon

With 81 percent of the U.S. population on social media, it’s no surprise that platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are becoming a big part of campaign strategy. Candidates, and organizations that advocate for candidates or issues, are turning to digital spaces to reach voters with their messages—hoping to turn likes, retweets, and shares into votes.

This election cycle in Michigan is going to be busy. With every state house, state senate, and House of Representatives seat up for grabs, along with a Senator race, a Governor race, and a growing list of ballot initiatives, voters are going to be seeing a lot from candidates and advocacy organizations from now until November.

Below are 5 social media tactics you should expect to see this year.

Live streaming

What was a novelty in the last election cycle has now become a staple in the digital communications toolkit. Facebook Live, the main social live streaming tool, provides candidates and organizations an easy and authentic way to connect with voters directly on the platform.

Expect to see candidates and organizations live streaming at events, press conferences, and following major campaign updates. If you follow a candidate or organization’s Facebook page, you’ll even get an alert when they go live. By tuning in during the live coverage, you’ll also be able to engage with other viewers via comments. But don’t worry if you miss the actual live event – most candidates and organizations will share the live video to their page for voters to view after.

One-to-one engagement

Candidates and organizations no longer view social media as a way to just push out messages, surveys, or petitions. More and more campaigns now use the tool to engage one-on-one with potential voters, establishing connections and relationships long before election day.

This election season, you should try to engage with candidates or organizations by tweeting them with a mention (@ symbol + their Twitter handle, like @martinwaymire), replying with a comment to their posts or tweets, and tagging them in Facebook posts or comments (@ symbol + their page name).

More relevant ads

Political social advertising has been a hot topic this year. As platforms work to increase security, like Facebook’s recent requirement for all political campaigns to complete an authorization process, campaigns are getting smarter about who and how they target with their digital advertising dollars. Candidates and organizations can promote content and target users on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, giving them another way to reach voters in the digital universe.  

Targeting algorithms and data continue to evolve, so expect to see ads that are relevant to issues you care about and ads that might be hyper-specific to things like your zip code and hobbies.

Chatbots

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer reserved for sci-fi movies, as companies funnel more and more capital into research and development of various AI tools. One increasingly popular tool is something called a “chatbot,” which is an AI powered Facebook Messenger tool that follows a series of pre-programmed logic rules to drive real conversations with voters.

A chatbot can receive a message from a voter and, based on the logic it’s programmed to follow, give the voter more information, collect information like email address, zip, and phone, and even ask the voter if they plan on voting in the upcoming election. With several startups offering candidates and organizations code-free bot builders, chatbots are becoming popular ways to connect with voters where they already spend their time.

Accountability

Social media has had a huge impact on politics and election cycles already. Video, sound bytes, and pictures can now be shared rapidly, reaching voters across the county within minutes. Social networks give voters, and even less politically engaged constituents, ways to hold candidates and organizations accountable for their actions, their comments, and even their campaign contributions.

This election cycle, make sure you follow potential candidates, organizations, and news sources on social media to stay up to date on what’s going on and who’s saying what. As a social savvy voter, you have the resources to help make informed decisions at the ballot box and also have the power to help your friends, family, and colleagues do the same!