Social Media in Politics - Changing the Way Campaigns Spend Marketing Budgets

October 08, 2012 The 2012 elections have seen an especially agressive mix of marketing strategies. AdAge has estimated totals marketing expenditures could reach $9.8 billion for all races (including statewide congressional and municipal races in addition to the national presidential election.)  With all of this money being put into play, it is interesting to see the ways that the candidates with less cash are maximizing their advertising and marketing dollars.

Case Study: Ted Cruz Hit Online with Creative Strategies

One example of using social media and online strategies to make up for small marketing budgets and awareness is Ted Cruz, a relative unknown running for Texas' U.S. Senate seat. In the primary, his competition was a well-known David Dewhurst. From the beginning, Cruz' campaign engaged supportive bloggers with weekly calls to feed content creation. The campaign has two full-time staffers creating a bank of social media content to ensure quick responses on Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, his team created a microsite, cruzcrew.org, to empower volunteers with literature and content. Read more about the Cruz campaign's online strategies. His aggressive integration of online marketing strategy into his overall campaign  gathered enough support to bring him from being the dark horse candidate for his party to the general election.  With politics, ROI is ultimately determined on election day with an all-or-nothing measure, but we can definitely look at how far his campaign's online strategy has taken him with some basic metrics to understand his success in the primary run-off: as of October 8th (to be fair, post-primary run-off), Ted Cruz has 32,000 Twitter followers to the defeated Dewhurst's 4,400; 94,000 Facebook fans to Dewhurst's 42,000.

Takeaway: Voters (Consumers) are increasingly looking online for information

Voters are consumers looking to make a decision between two "products." Politicians are beginning to understand the Zero Moment of Truth, with the polling booth being the conventional store shelf. The successful politicians understand that a fundamental shift has occurred in the way consumers come to buying decisions and that shift applies to our voting decisions as well. Consumers no longer only rely on advertising but instead research online -- craving content (reviews, blogs, interaction on social media) to form decisions. Election season is a good case study for both B2B and B2C marketers in that we see a high speed response to marketing strategies that we implement every day for our own products and services.

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