We had a political candidate come in to DragonSearch last October 2014. Their campaign was trying everything they could think of, but the popular incumbent opponent was so far ahead in the polls, the race was already deemed over. They came to us to inquire about a last ditch effort using social media ads.
Four weeks later, not only did our client win, they won by a substantial margin. The shock of this result is still reverberating across both political parties as they prepare to enter the next election cycle.
If you are a candidate running a campaign and you want to turbo boost over your opponent in the next election, here are some things that might prove to be the ‘difference maker.’
Facebook used to be a feel good network where you could go and see how old your high school buddies look today, and along the way some would say it became like a used car salesman bait & switch con. Instead of tapping into the human necessity of driving, it focused on the inherent human desire to seek attention! Look at me, look at me, look at me – and what I am eating for dinner, doing with my kids, and all the cool amazing things about my life, with some balance of bad breaks, dogs dying and pertinent comments on the weather, local points of interests and items in the news. All these becoming data points for profiling users with social advertising. When running a political campaign, it is critical to think about the accuracy of the way Facebook has profiled us.
The big old billboard on the side of the highway might be trying to connect with the motorists who have the best possibility of becoming customers, but in the process, it is seen by everyone driving up and down the road. Print, radio and television advertising attempts to narrow it down somewhat to the people whose tendencies align with the ideology of the publication, or the content of the program. Advertising works best if it is targeted. Ask the guy handing out flyers on the street in Manhattan – they decide whether you look slimy enough for the strip club. They get it right a good percentage of the time – but if they don’t – outside of a dirty look from a priest – no real harm is done to the marketing effort.
In marketing a service or a product on social media, we target the audiences and their sub-segments that we desire to reach. We generally do not care so much if our message falls into the stream of people who it was not necessarily intended for, besides lamenting the wasted reach. If an ad for dog food gets shown to someone with only cats it is not the end of the world, and such things are expected to happen.
With politician advertising on social media – for many ad sets, you do NOT want this to happen!
There are two major parties, Republicans and Democrats, and they each are very different. It can be difficult to get vote crossovers between party lines. For this particular advertising campaign, we felt that it was crucial to have a higher than normal amount of such voting, and that our candidate had the potential to acquire it. The messaging to each contingent was specific and hyper-targeted. We did not want Republicans seeing the ads creatively targeted for Democrats, or the Democrats seeing ads creatively targeted for Republicans. Images, copy, styling and voice of each ad had a very focused targeted audience and purpose.
Even though ALL our targeting choices were Republican alignments, some Democratic friends called me to inform me that THEY were served the ad!!
We as digital marketers do not of course know all the ingredients of Facebook’s secret sauce. Just like the Google algorithms, we can do tests, gain knowledge, and use our intuition and ingenuity to figure out what is going on. But here’s the thing with profiling, and this makes sense when you think about it: If a staunch Democrat at some point on Facebook sees a post by a Republican that touches a nerve enough to compel them to comment on it, this signal to the profiling machine – a connection with a person or post who is connected to all things Republican – could trigger the overview that this person kinda ‘likes’ Republican things.
This affirmation of the overview (we pretty much already knew) allowed us to target the ads better for the duration of the campaign. In the political arena, with hyper-targeted individual political party advertising, the profiling interest choices don’t cut it. Quickly switching to other methods to connect with the clients desired audiences, which included tactics like using Board of Elections-provided lists of registered voters specific to their party alignments and voting participation history.
When I was a kid my Dad was into the stock market. This was before personal computers. He had a big leger book and used to chart stocks all the time, looking for a competitive edge, moving investment money around with his broker, charting, monitoring, re-thinking, and involved in actionable participating constantly.
That’s what I had to do to get this political candidate elected to office. Days, evenings, nights, weekends – I would even set my alarm to wake me up in the middle of the night to check the metrics and results of the ads as they hit the late night crowd, listening, tweaking and refining ad sets under the moonlight. This was a critical element to the success that was achieved.
At the initial meeting with the campaign manager for the politician, I acquired their trust. That type of relationship in marketing can typically take months and months to firmly establish between the marketing specialist and the organization. I was driven to create it immediately. As a result, the candidate and their campaign granted me COMPLETE freedom to create the ads and manage the social advertising as I saw fit. I absolutely did not need any approval for anything in advance. I told the campaign manager exactly what I needed out of the gate and along the way (landing pages, images, information, updates, etc.), and their efficient and detail oriented staff provided everything extremely quickly. We never missed a beat – and in an intense limited 4 week period – every beat of time mattered! They said, “YOU are the expert – do your thing!”
It was all on me – and I liked that challenge.
I was determined to get this candidate elected to office. I told everyone that I was going to make this happen. Like an actor playing a part – I made myself become the candidate. I was her – her voice, her personality – and I was determined to make her message razor sharp to cut through everything else on Facebook for people in the demographic area of the election.
At DragonSearch, we generally operate as an interactive team. In this rare instance, however, the individual approach was more appropriate. One person needed to do virtually everything and totally own it. This reflected the agility in our agency’s marketing abilities, and the capability to customize our efforts to the particular goals and tasks at hand. Our Dragon support group was there whenever I needed additional input, and assistance.
It all worked. The win has been attributed to the Facebook advertising – period! All political parties have taken notice and it will be a factor in their future election strategies.
The candidate is still somewhat is shock now some months later.
As a digital marketer who sees the power of social advertising it was extremely gratifying to change the projected course of an event, and impact a client’s life and the political landscape so greatly.
DragonSearch is here – and we are ready. The innovative team environment and our quest to be the best makes all our digital marketing specialists always ready for action. We have the capability to provide crucial marketing efforts customized for the task at hand. So if you need an intense ‘round the clock creative marketing effort to make your endeavor a success – call us, trust us, and allow our team to seize that opportunity.