The 2019 election is just around the corner and a lot of money is being spent to canvas for support and ultimately votes. As a prospective voter, do you think you can be swayed by what you see online? To answer, I turn to the 2015 election.
The 2015 election was a huge leap for digital marketing in Nigerian politics. All candidates needed to connect with voters through various channels. We saw a switch from tv and radio ads to web and social media campaigns as the major communication channels. Goodluck vs Buhari was the ultimate showdown that kept us on the edge of our seats. The handlers of Buhari’s campaign used tantalizing visuals, relatable content and had tons of influencers on their side. Goodluck’s team was mostly on the defensive and barely articulated his achievements in office. In the end, an epic digital marketing campaign unseated an incumbent president for the first time in Nigeria’s history.
How can you run a digital marketing campaign to win elections in Nigeria?
1. BE ONLINE
This is obvious. You can’t be a serious candidate and not be online. Prospective voters are online, constituents are online. You must engage them. Every aspiring candidate must have a strong online presence in today’s political sphere.
2. HAVE A DIGITAL MARKETING TEAM
To effectively carry out digital marketing for your campaign, you need an efficient digital marketing team made up of marketing strategists, content writers, designers, photographers, SEO specialists, web developers, social media managers, data analysts & influencers. By the way, touts, hired guns, and tugs (who snatch ballot boxes and unleash mayhem) are not needed in your team.
3. GET A WEBSITE
Once you announce your candidacy, people will google you up. They want to know your plans for them and you don’t want a third party website to shape your agenda, you want to take the lead with a user friendly website were your supporters can get to know more about your story, your ideology and of course, your manifesto. Best part is, it’s more economical than billboards and wall posters. All your campaign materials (videos, pictures, schedule, and manifesto) need to be on your website. You can have a blog for your website where you share fresh perspectives from time to time and a fund-raising section.
4. BRAND YOURSELF
Perception is reality. Nobody wants to vote for a loser or a candidate that looks or feels unprepared. Your name, initials, logo, colors, tag phrase, party banner and every single design must resonate and portray you and what you are about. Be consistent when it comes to the messages that you are sending. Build a positive image for your campaign. Carry the same message across all platforms, posters, handbills, hand bands, every promotional material. Claim your domain name and verify your social media handles accounts with speed. You don’t want a parody to be more popular than you, or do you?
5. START A CONVERSATION
There are over 8.7 million Nigerians on Facebook alone. Social media provides a deeper connection with your campaign team and audience. Facebook, twitter and Instagram are the largest platforms used by Nigerians. You need to leverage this to engage your supporters, sharing exciting messages of hope and inspiration while keeping them up to date with your campaign. Alongside having a personal account, social media pages/fan pages should be opened. Other social media platforms you can use include, Youtube, Linkedin & of course, Whatsapp. Do not be afraid to jump on hot trends. Of course, you want to go viral, but for the right reasons. Bottom-line? Get them talking.
You can’t rely on organic reach to win an election. Boost your most engaging posts and target prospective voters by factors such as demographics & interests. Deploy pay per Click advertising on Google, Bing, YouTube videos, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram. Use the analytics data from the beginning of the campaign to target voters.
7. CONNECT WITH BLOGGERS AND DIGITAL INFLUENCERS
Like fuel to fire, you need them to spread the gospel of your campaign. You need influencers with an oversize following and a crazy fan base to be on your side. You need them shouting your name from the roof tops and flaunting your credentials at every turn. Japeth Omojuwa is one of the reasons Buhari is in office today. He and his goons set twitter on fire for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. You also need a team of volunteers ready to support your campaign.
8. MONITOR YOUR CAMPAIGN AND EVALUATE
Peter Drucker once said “what cannot be measured cannot be managed”. Ask your team to keep you updated with weekly campaign reports and constantly analyse them to optimize your campaigns and overall strategy. Constant analysis is a must in political campaigns which are usually much more volatile than commercial ones. You must be ready to respond to any scandal or allegation and you must be proactive in furthering your agenda and making a claim to the crown.
To win elections in Nigeria using digital marketing, you need to be online, have a digital marketing team, get a website, brand yourself, start a conversation, advertise, connect with influencers and monitor your campaign.
Don’t forget that the key goal is to convert a passive supporter or follower into an active fan and ultimately a passionate voter. Ensure, you can back up all your social media stunts with competent leadership. And when you win, don’t ignore your digital marketing team as your team will be important for a successful tenure.
Just before I pop the champagne, what is that 1 tip you’d like to add to this list? Drop a comment.