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  • Writer's pictureChristienne Jauregui

NZ General Elections - a lesson on Social Media marketing

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Depending on which camp you pitched your tent on, the lead-up to and the results of our General Elections may or may not have followed through the running theme of 2020 - a chaotic year, to say the least. From the perspective of marketers, particularly those in the realm of Social Media and digital marketing, what can we make of it all?

Balancing investments

As The Spinoff reports, the National Party spent the most on Facebook advertising out of all parties, distributing their budget of $261,000 across over 60 ad assets within the period of the 20th of September to the 19th of October. In comparison, the Labour Party had nearly 900 assets, some of which exemplified what A/B testing could achieve, while spending $107,000 less than their opposition.

Sure, this is just a snapshot of our major political parties' online campaign strategies, but it does show the importance of striking a balance when investing on Social Media. A substantial Media Spend budget won't be effective by itself; investing in relevant content and clever audience targeting will ensure that the budget will be put to good use. Ensuring you're putting relevant creative in front of the right audience, really does give you more bang for your buck!

Brand building and organic reach

Marketers can also look to how Chlöe Swarbrick paved her Auckland Central electorate win through first-in-class Social brand building.

From livestreaming during lockdown, to embracing her meme status, Swarbrick continued to steadily invest in building organic reach and engagement during this period. She has been consistently maintaining her social channels ever since her run for the 2016 Auckland mayoral election which was her entry into mainstream politics. A move which has really given her an advantage over her rivals who mostly build up their campaigns closer to election time, rather than taking an always-on approach.

Swarbrick's activity on Social was (and still is) audience-oriented, relevant, and consistent - hallmarks of a successful always-on brand presence. This was why her humble $7,000 Media Spend budget served as a productive boost in her already-buzzing, online political campaigning.

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick addressing a crowd at Khartoum Place, Auckland
Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick addressing a crowd at Khartoum Place, Auckland

Gathering insights and Social Listening

Moments of great cultural relevance are always valuable for marketers. These moments provide a deep pool of the latest insights on audiences at a large scale. And that's exactly what you need when you're crafting a blueprint for an effective campaign!

Traditional polls collected through phone, mass media websites and publications have a tendency to skew towards an older, more conservative audience. A considerable part of the population tend to be missed through this data collection. I mean, how many people do you know have an active landline?

Politicians who genuinely want to represent their communities ought to hear from alternative perspectives to have a wide picture of what all New Zealanders think and feel. This is possible through Social Listening, as politicians can gather valuable data and insights on the core values of their communities. For switched on politicians, Social Listening findings can then be combined and cross-referenced with data from traditional methods in order to shape policy and purposeful decision-making.

In summary:

For Aotearoa-based marketers, the General Elections generated distinctly Kiwi conversations, sentiment, and data. From this we can learn how elements of content strategy, such as brand building and balancing investments, can effectively engage Social Media audiences, and may bring about a momentous parliamentary victory.

Even our political figures - current and prospective - can also learn a thing or two from how the General Elections unfolded on Social Media and the polls. Engagement with communities online is just as important as offline. In order to build authentic and genuine relationships with your followers, it's important not to neglect your audiences outside of election year. Investing in always-on communication, rather than sporadic boosts during elections, is the key to building real and lasting engagement and awareness, and ultimately increases the efficiency of your Media Spend.

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