In the Philippines, it costs ₱500,000 to ₱1,000,000 ($10,500 – $21,000) for a 30- second TV commercial on primetime ad on top stations in the country. If you’re a politician who aspires to become a national leader, it would take a lot of money to fund your political campaign. If you’re running for a seat in the local government, the cost could be much lower but could still be expensive if you will be focusing on investing in the traditional media. Although traditional media is still effective since a lot of registered voters are not yet penetrated by Internet, digital media is an important gateway to reach target voters. Besides, it is more efficient, interactive and cost-efficient than the traditional way.
So whether you’re running for a government post or you’re a digital marketing professional who’s in charge of your client’s political campaign, here are 15 digital marketing tips to make your campaign more effective.
1. Understand your target audience.
Get factual data about your target audience online. Dig up verifiable insights like their estimated numbers, as the degree and cost of your campaign will depend on them. One way to estimate the number of your target audience is to use Facebook’s Ads Manager. This tool will let you know the estimated number of your target audience based on target location, interest, ages, gender, and other demographics.
For example, if you’re campaigning for a national election in the Philippines, your target audience is estimated to be 41,000,000 people. See image below.
If you’re only campaigning for a local poll, let us say a local position in Tacloban City, Philippines, your estimated target audience is around 66,000 people (see image below). You can set the age to only include people who are 18-65+ years old to filter out the ones who are not yet registered voters.
Take note that Facebook’s data are only estimated and may not reflect exact figures, as some Facebook users may not provide correct information such as their age and location. Thus, you have to take these things into consideration.
2. Know your competition.
To win your competition, be knowledgeable about your opponents. Gather important data that you can use to be more competitive. These pieces of information may include their websites, social media pages, followers and supporters, political platforms, audience engagement, strategies and tactics used, and even the performance of their current digital campaigns.
There are many tools and platforms on the Internet that can be utilized to spy your competition. Even Google Web Search and Facebook Graph Search can be handy in searching important information about your competitors. Having a Facebook Page will also give you the ability to watch the Facebook Pages of your rivals.
For example, using one of my Facebook Pages, I can monitor the performance of the top five presidential candidates in the Philippines. See image below.
This enables me to know the growth of their followers, number of posts per week, number of engagements, and other intelligent data. Just remember that when you add a page to your “pages to watch”, the manager of that page will be notified that your page is watching it. Hence, you might want to use another page that is not related to your campaign to avoid being detected by your competitors.
3. Build your digital marketing team.
An effective digital marketing campaign cannot be accomplished by a person alone. For a successful campaign, consider forming a team which may include the following:
– Digital marketing strategist. The one who will plan and create your digital marketing plan. A digital marketing strategist can also lead your digital marketing team.
– Writers. The ones who will write articles, news and stories for your campaign.
– Graphic designers and photographers. They can create and generate engaging images and infographics for your campaign.
– Other content creators. These include video producers and animators who can create useful videos and presentations for your campaign.
– Social media managers. The people who are in charge of your social media pages and social media marketing.
– Search engine marketers. The ones who are in charge of your visibility, authority and reputation on Google and other search engines.
– Other professionals who can help your team execute the campaign smoothly.
Furthermore, your digital marketing team should not only include digital marketing professionals but the politician, political party, and non-digital campaign managers should also be involved with the team to make sure that your overall campaign will be cohesive.
4. Create social media pages and channels.
Aside from creating personal social media accounts, the politician should also have social media pages. Hence, these must be created:
– Facebook Page. This will be used to reach your target audience on Facebook and run Facebook Ads.
– Twitter Account. This will be used to reach your target audience on Twitter and run Twitter Ads.
– YouTube Channel. This will be used to upload your potentially viral videos and reach target audience on YouTube.
– Instagram. Instagram is a popular mobile app that has 400 million active monthly users worldwide. It is widely used by younger voters, hence, utilizing this app is a must.
– Other social media platforms. Depending on your target audience, there are other social networks that can be useful in your digital marketing campaign. But take note that focus is important so you might just want to concentrate on social media platforms that can really help you in achieving your goals.
5. Claim your digital brands.
Prevent other people or groups from using fake websites and social media accounts out of your name. To do that, consider accomplishing the following steps immediately:
– Register your domain name (e.g., www.yourname.com) before it is registered by other parties who might use it to build a fake website.
– Claim your username on Facebook (e.g., facebook.com/yourname), Twitter (e.g., Twitter.com/yourname or @yourname), and other social media channels before they are claimed and used by your opponents as fake accounts to ruin your reputation.
– Verify your social media accounts to show their authenticity and to distinguish them from fake accounts.
6. Build a complete website.
To be loved more, the politician should be known more. Public service is about honesty and transparency. Since most people are already on the Internet, the politician should have an accessible website where people can read his biography, political platforms, and other important information that will convince audience to vote for him. Unlike social media pages, professional websites are more controllable and scalable. It’s also more cost-effective and interactive than traditional political materials, like billboards and tarpaulins.
Your website is a must since it will serve as your headquarter online. It can be the mother ship of your digital marketing content that you can spread through blogging, search engine marketing and social media marketing.
A website developer will help you build a website for your campaign, but usually, digital marketing firms or professionals already offer website development as their add-on service.
7. Do professional blogging.
High quality and engaging blog posts can bring tons of traffic to your website. It can also increase your search engine visibility, boost your social media presence, and reach your target audience. Politicians who personally write their blog posts can become closer to their audience since they can personally touch the lives of people. But of course professional writers and bloggers can also help in crafting the best blog posts for your political movement.
Remember that political marketing is not different from business marketing. So don’t be too pushy but be a magnet to your audience. Here are some examples of ideas you can publish in your blog:
– Blog about the current problems in your area and offer a list of practical solutions.
– Blog about a list of popular tourist destinations in your target location. This topic usually attracts a lot of readers. It will also show how a politician cares about the tourism industry and environment in his nation or region.
– Blog about interesting stories about the history in your region. It will show how familiar the politician is with the history of his native land.
– Blog about health and education, as these are some of the most important issues that a politician must address.
– Blog about fighting corruption and other problems in the society.
– Blog about practical solutions according to the politician’s platforms.
– Blog about the stories of the people whom the politician has already helped improve their lives. Make it like a case study to show the effectiveness of the politician to serve the public.
– Avoid blogging about the negative traits of your opponents, as this can backfire.
8. Do search engine optimization.
Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second or 3.5 billion searches per day. Google and other search engines are the best places to research important information about a political candidate online. Thus, having a higher visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) is also a must to gain more supporters and potential voters.
Here are some basic tips to optimize your website and content for the search engines:
– Use long-tail or specific keywords.
– Be creative with the title of your content.
– Write and publish in-depth articles.
– Improve the load speed of your website.
– Use a clean and minimalist theme for your website and blog.
– Publish highly engaging content that can attract back links.
– Improve the internal linking of related pages in your website.
– Improve your website’s user experience.
– Do guest blogging with other high-authority and relevant blogs.
To expand your knowledge about search engine optimization, read these 34 Actionable SEO tips to increase your brand’s search engine visibility.
9. Amplify your content marketing.
Your online content like blog posts and other online campaign materials have to reach the optimum number of your target audience. So here are some ways to strengthen your content marketing:
– Hire a professional photographer to capture high-quality images that you can use to add more life to your content.
– Create rich information-filled infographics for your target audience. Infographics are highly viral content that can be published in your blog and social media pages.
– Produce interesting and touching videos that can move the thoughts and emotions of your target audience.
– Have the right timing. Don’t just share and spread your content anytime but determine first the perfect time to do it.
– Use hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to make your content more discoverable.
– Interact with your audience.
10. Utilize tools.
Digital marketing in the political arena can be tough and competitive. Hence, you have to use tools to make your campaign easier, faster and more productive. Google alone provides a lot of digital marketing tools that you can use with a single account. These tools include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Keyword Calendar and Google Drive. Facebook also has a lot to offer with its Facebook Page Insights, Ads Manager, Graph Search, and Business Manager. To learn more tools that you can use for your digital marketing campaign, check out this list.
11. Join relevant social media groups.
You can use Facebook Graph search to find groups and communities that are related to your target audience. For example, if your target voters are from Tacloban City, you can simple use Facebook to search for groups of people who are living in Tacloban City.
Joining groups on social networks like Facebook will give you the opportunity to:
– listen to your target audience;
– know and understand what they need and how you can satisfy them;
– provide the right answers to their questions;
– and build good and close relationships with your potential supporters.
12. Get additional boost with Paid Ads.
Paid advertising like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords will further extend the reach of your digital marketing campaign. Organic online marketing is effective but by integrating it with paid advertising, it can be a lot more effective. Paid online advertising is also not as expensive as you think. In fact, based on my experience with the Philippine audience, a ₱1,000 ($20) worth of Facebook Ad is already enough to boost my Facebook post to reach at least a 100,000 targeted people on Facebook.
Paid advertising can help you achieve the following goals at a faster rate:
– Grow your Facebook Page likes from the people who matters most to you
– Increase your Facebook posts’ reach and engagements (likes, comments and shares)
– Generate more exposure for your engaging content to trigger viral marketing
– Boost your website’s traffic through Google Adwords
– Increase your website’s traffic from Instagram and other mobile advertising platforms
13. Connect with bloggers and digital influencers.
Influential bloggers and social media influencers may not be as famous and as expensive as famous celebrities in your country, but they also have the power to reach hundred thousand or even millions of people online.
The articles and stories written and published by authority bloggers are usually what you can find on the search engine results pages when you search for something on Google. Social media influencers like people or brands that have popular Facebook Pages also have the power to influence their followers.
Professional bloggers and digital influencers can be tapped to support your political campaign online. By identifying bloggers and digital influencers whose followers are matched with your target audience, you can invite and hired them to help you gain more voters and supporters.
14. Monitor your campaign.
An effective digital marketing campaign is regularly monitored, analyzed and ensured that it is heading the right way. Using some of the tools I mentioned in Tip #10, such as Google Analytics and Faceook Page Insights, you can assess and evaluate the performance and progress of your digital marketing campaign. Regular reports must also be submitted, reviewed and analyzed to improve your campaign. These questions must be answered with intelligent data generated by your digital marketing campaign.
– Are you reaching your audience on social media according to your target?
– Is your website traffic increasing according to your goals?
– Are you ranking on search engines based on your target keywords?
– Are you earning followers, supporters and volunteers online according to your target?
– Are you earning influential supporters online?
– Is your positive online reputation and popularity growing and leading against your competitors?
– What are people saying about you?
Here’s an example of BuzzSumo’s most shared content report about Duterte (one of the most popular presidential candidates in the Philippines’ 2016 Elections).
Aside from monitoring the most trending content published on the Internet about a brand, the tool can also be used to identify the ones who shared a certain trending content. The sharers can also be filtered according to their types, including bloggers, influencers, journalists and companies.
15. Walk the talk.
Any digital marketing campaign could be futile if it is not matched with what’s happening behind the Internet. Politics and public service are based on trust and the strong will to lead and help people. That is why the aspiring public servants must walk their talk. Besides, if they can show people offline that they can put their words into actions, people will be the ones who will talk their walk. People will start sharing and spreading good things about the politician, whether to their friends offline or their friends online.
Political campaigns can be a war of wits and deception. But in the digital marketing arena, campaigns are more interactive. Online audiences have better access to readily available information from search engines, social media feeds, blogs, and websites. Thus, they can be more knowledgeable than offline audiences. In other words, digital marketing campaigns should be based on trust and transparency to be more effective.
There are still many other strategies, tactics and tricks on how to make an online political campaign more effective and powerful. However, some of them are worth to be undisclosed, as the world of politics can be too competitive and tricky. 🙂