Using Social Media to Target Voters for the 2014 Election

Lawrence Tang @larrytangy Social media can be used for almost everything you can think of. It is even used for political events like elections. With the 2014 election right around the corner, this could not be the more perfect time for politicians to capture the attention of their voters by posting or tweeting.

Social media posts allow voters to see what the candidates are doing prior to the election and how they are campaigning. Campaigns can be expensive and hard to follow. Politicians can easily take advantage of social media to reach out to their voters because it's free and popular. Of young adults ages 18 to 29, 89 percent use social networking websites. This is the age group that candidates tend to target.

Most people have a smartphone. Either you have one or you know someone that has one. The average smartphone has features such as motion sensors, a gyroscope, location and proximity sensors, etc. These features can be used to create viral messages to interact with potential voters. Social media on the go via mobile is a trend. A "mobile first" strategy can increase ratings and encourage two-way communication. Not to mention video is still a popular tool for candidates to advertise.

Nothing beats face-to-face conversations, including social media. Social media should be used to connect instantly and then lead to talking in person. Shreveport's mayoral candidate Patrick Williams is using targeted online banner ads to communicate with nearby voters. After reaching out to people via social media, candidates should be sure to go to local neighborhoods and knock on people's doors in order to talk with them face to face.

Facebook and Twitter have updated their capabilities to allow politicians to target voters. Facebook created Managed Custom Audiences, which enables campaigns to target voters on desktop and mobile devices. Twitter revealed Tailored Audiences feature, which enables advertisers to interact with people who already have taken interest in their brand. Campaigns can use these tools to effectively interact with potential voters.

In India, there are over 200 million internet users. Based on Alexa Internet, these people are the highest Facebook and Twitter users, outside of the United States. In 2014, India had its first social media election. A mobile messaging platform called WhatsApp was used for internal communication and party updates while Google supported the election by setting up hangouts with politicians. Social media allows all economic levels the freedom to openly communicate and vote for the politicians they want to win.

Social media is an excellent medium for politicians to get and keep in touch with their voters. It will not replace traditional campaigning; however, if candidates want to gain more voters and have an edge in the 2014 election, they need to be on social media and use it proactively. Using social media can make the difference between first and second or winning and losing.

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