It is no surprise that over 80% of Americans use prominent sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to stay connected in various communities and informed about current events. The reach of social media has helped transform a number of different industries, from online advertising to e-commerce–but little estimated the true magnitude of social media’s impact on the political landscape.
Regardless of political affiliation, it is clear that social media played a huge role in the 2016 election and the campaign cycles that followed. But across the board, most political campaigns are still lagging in utilizing social media to capture the attention of younger generations. With the 2020 elections creeping up, political advertisers need to update their paid social strategy to engage Millennials.
For elections to come, Millennials are projected to grow into the largest generation in the electorate, making them an ideal demographic to reach. The 2016 election estimated 62 million Millennials eligible to vote, surpassing the amount of Generation X and nearing the 70 million Baby Boomers. Additionally, Millennials’ eligibility is only set to grow, compared to the inverse growth trend of Baby Boomers.
But despite positive growth, Millennials fail to compete on the number of actual voters. 2016 results showed approximately only half of Millennials voted versus a near 70% voter turnout from Baby Boomers. While it is true that historical data points to low voter turnout among young adults, Millennials are still politically involved. Whether it be contacting politicians for policy change, protesting for social causes, or participating as civic volunteers. For political campaigns, it’s more important than ever that they meet millennial voters where they are, and this includes on social channels. Below are a few steps that serve as a great starting point for political advertisers looking to drive engagement among Millennials.
1.Increase Digital Spending Budget
On average, political budgets spend only 2.7-5.1% of their massive media budgets on digital advertising, while 50% of the budget is allocated for television ads and direct mail.
In the 2016 presidential election, Trump identified the potential in digital media, effectively investing 44% of his media budget on digital campaigns. As users shift to online methods for obtaining information, campaigners need to avoid outdated advertising methods and shift their strategy online as well.
2. Build a Strong Brand
Building a strong social media presence is essential for any political candidate at any level. It allows the campaign to engage under a unifying theme through audio-visual experiences and real-time interactions.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a perfect example of a social media master. Even as a freshman legislator and the youngest congresswoman ever, AOC has amassed undeniable power in the political landscape. She took to the digital stage to share personal anecdotes as well as her political platform, building one of the most engaged followings on Capitol Hill.
3. Connect in Real-time Conversations
Twitter has gained the most traction among politicians and constituents alike. Before character-capped tweets, politicians had few opportunities to share opinions frequently; now, the platform serves as a direct communication platform for campaigners to be more connected to followers and transparent in terms of policy stance. It allows politicians to gauge sentiment in real-time and take appropriate action to engage their audience.
At the end of the day, voters want to feel heard, and social media is the bridge that gives voters a platform to a voice. By prioritizing digital strategy, political campaigners can effectively push their message to a large audience and closer connect to Millennial constituents.