Social Local — Global Target

March 11, 2014

By Kathleen Stockham, MediaPost

For the politically minded marketer, the social media sphere is likely the best prognosticator of political flavors available. Preferences, likes, clubs, affinities and alliances can all be easily found in public profile searches. But for the street-team of pol marketers, it’s even more definitive as you get to local clubs and local races to “targeting your target.”

Let’s back up a little.

One of the worst-kept secrets in social media is that your “likes” and comments for platforms like Facebook and Twitter are not private. Not as long as the posts are global and public; any activity a user takes on public display posts or tweets is there for all to see. If my posts, comments and wall are “closed” to people who are not my friends, yet I comment or like a public post by a candidate or cause, my comments are out there for all to see — and be picked up by any search engine, too. So for pols looking to cull sentiment and user info from social media, simply make a global post and then sit back to watch the self-segmenting begin.

Whether supporter or opposition, any user can comment on a global post and its there for perpetuity. Since Facebook employs free-form text, users are also not limited to character count and can freely espouse any opinion. Smart marketers can cut/paste/troll on those comments and clearly get a specific sentiment tied to a particular user.

And — don’t forget that name and profile photo may also disclose hints as to age, gender, ethnicity and possibly favorite “Star Trek” character, too.

If you are test-marketing a particular position or platform for a candidate, Facebook and Twitter may be the perfect platform for that. Ask followers and fans for their input via a global and open post and, viola, you have instant feedback as well as clearly targeted users by name.

For Twitter, you have the ability to also see users and likes, shares and comments to user, but the economy of space keeps the sentiment to 140 characters one way or the other. However, another benefit to Twitter is the hashtag coagulant that also allows you to follow your trending (or lack thereof) for additional POVs by users who may not have reacted to your particular tweet but are reacting to the subject matter elsewhere. Again, it’s an easy way to measure messaging discipline and impact.

You cannot blanket assume that all “fans” on Facebook and Twitter are in your corner, either. A recent USA Today statistic found that some 38% of political watchers follow opposition candidates and special interest groups to keep an eye on what the competition is doing. Not surprisingly, many campaigns deploy social “trolls” who seek out opposition candidates and causes to flame posts and tweets to mimic public dissent and doubt on positions. These (sometimes paid) “staffers” spend all day flaming the other guy’s social media and POVs and generally disrupt the flow of conversation on social platforms.

However, smart marketers are learning some very clever work-arounds to that strategy, and changes to algorithms are also eliminating the perceived dominance of the dissenting voice (whether real or engineered.) It’s a good-bad/sound-scary predicament to “free speech” politically speaking in social media, and one to watch.

Overall, your social strategy should be robust and full of the many ways you can utilize social media for your targeting. And if you are willing to employ a little elbow-grease, you can also cull a very clear view of how your messaging is being received by the larger public — a public that may think politics is “private” but is definitely registering opinion as “public,” whether they mean to or not.


"Social Local — Global Target." Kathleen Stockham. MediaPost, 03/11/14.

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