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“Change.” In 2008, Barack Obama was crowned with the prestigious title of Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year. That year, the President forever changed the strategy for winning the nation’s most coveted seat. His direct message and social media push transformed him from an unknown senator competing against two of the most experienced politicians, to the recognizable and trusted face of Hope.
Simply put, marketing and digital media advertising is essential to political campaigns. From bumper stickers to YouTube videos to Twitter accounts, voters are relentlessly targeted by digital ads every four years by commander-in-chief hopefuls. Billions of dollars are spent on political advertising each year: “The degree of sophistication, customization, micro-targeting, and proliferation across media channels is unprecedented. The goal is to create a lot of content that is both pushed to people – who then share it with others – and made available so that people find it on their own.” Each candidate strategically creates a brand narrative, showcasing his or her beliefs, history, and characteristics to stand out in the digital media advertising frenzy. Each personal brand offers an insight of what the candidates are looking to convey to their voters. For example, Bernie Sanders informally uses his first name, making him more approachable, while Rand Paul confidentially uses a torch symbol to evoke the Statue of Liberty.
However, “forward” thinking logos and slogans to “Make America Great Again” are not the only tactic used to differentiate these candidates. Many are jumping out of their comfort zones and using other media outlets to directly communicate with their voters.
Hillary Clinton is leading the way with her new approach. The former Secretary of State has completely transformed her campaign to utilize Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and her newest outlet, Periscope. In fact, Clinton live-streamed her first major campaign rally on Roosevelt Island in New York. Rand Paul quickly followed suit by streaming many of his campaign events.
Engagement in social media has become a priority to many major candidates in the running.
Donald Trump, with 20.8 million actions and 8 million followers, has used attack ads on Instagram and press releases on Twitter to gain traction. Ben Carson, with 15.7 million actions and 3.3 million followers, and Bernie Sanders, with 9.2 million actions and 1.9 million followers, are both close behind.
Senator Ted Cruz even announced his candidacy on Twitter saying, “Hey, I’m running for President.”
Each candidate uses 140 characters to gain an edge over the competition, while also developing a relationship with their followers. "It's more important for the progressive candidates [like Bernie Sanders] who are trying to get more people involved in the political process by voting, volunteering, sharing messages—that's what really drives innovation on social media."¬
Although the tactics used in President Obama’s 2008 campaign were revolutionary at the time, technology is constantly changing. The 2016 candidates have been forced to stay innovative and conquer new digital marketing and advertising techniques.
Source: By the Numbers: How Presidential Candidates Stack Up on Social Media And why Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Followers aren’t everything by Kristina Monllos. Adweek.
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