The real reason that political social advertising is going to be a major factor, maybe the biggest factor, in the 2012 U.S. presidential election and all political careers around the globe is simple. People spend more time on-line, and more time engaged in social media every day. The numbers of hours people spend on social media sites and the number of people who do it are staggering. What we are learning now is how much influence someone who works the social media sphere well can have.
Traditionally when politicians raise money for their campaigns the majority of the money is spent in two ways: for trips on the campaign trail and on extensive TV, print, and radio ads, and direct mail advertising. Often the person who can raise (and spend) the most money wins the election because they have been able to make themselves the most well-known and influence the public the most.
With political social media, politicians can spend campaign dollars in a way that is approximately a hundred times more productive, effective, and cost efficient that the old ways of advertising.
Statistics are showing that more and more people are recording their TV shows and fast forwarding through the commercials. Some studies estimate that as much as $80 million dollars in revenue is lost per year due to this trend.
By contrast, social media sites are growing in leaps and bounds. It isn’t just teens who are using social media. By all accounts social media is growing rapidly in every age demographic, even the 65 and older.
How many people use social media? According to the 2012 numbers, Facebook has 900 million users, Youtube gets approximately 4 billion views per day, Twitter has approximately 460 million users, and Google+ has approximately 170 million users. That’s just the big four. Many calculations estimate that when you consider that many social media sites get multiple hits from the same person and many blog sites have loyal followers, about 12 – 15 billion people get a large portion of their important info from social media.
Political social media is going to rule because politicians would be incredibly naïve not to tap into this.
Social media is especially important for politics. Political social media can target important keywords in their ads to help people interested in the issues their politicians are behind find their views on those issues and become fans of their site. Just as, or even more importantly, political social media can search for people who are discussing a certain topic and direct their ads specifically to their targeted audience. Because ads are going out in a strategic manner they have more impact than a direct mail ad that goes out to a blanket audience. Not only are social media ads cheaper to make, they take much less time to make and they get more results for the money.
What are some of the other reasons using political social media is so important? It allows supporters (and swing voters) to comment and get engaged instead of always being talked at in a one-sided conversation. Candidates can capitalize on the events of the day, review and summarize speeches that went well, comment on world news, and keep up to the minute real time connections with potential voters.
85% of all politicians are using social media to further their careers. This year US president Barack Obama is on track to spend 35 million dollars in on-line campaigning. This is over twice the amount of any candidate in history. How will this spending affect the outcome of the November elections? It just may be the deciding factor on who sits in the White House for the next four years.