I am going to make a somewhat controversial statement: after witnessing these last elections, I believe that the marketing teams of the political parties are more prepared and more advanced than most of the major advertisers in this country. There it is, I already said it. Something that seems anathema (that political parties lead in innovation, avant-garde, etc.) is inevitable to happen: the electoral candidates act as brands, with an audience to convince to buy their product, so their team of Marketing becomes something as important or more, than the principles they represent.
This last fact is not new; what is new is the employment by parties of the most advanced digital marketing strategies and techniques in the market. And it is that these elections are the first time that, expressly, both the processing of personal data for political purposes and the sending of electoral propaganda by electronic means or messaging services are allowed.
Therefore, it is normal for the parties to take advantage of this circumstance to move a good part of their efforts to the RRSS, which has become a fundamental channel for the political parties.
And this has not done anything else to start: as a marketing professional, I do not stop seeing similarities between what is happening worldwide in political marketing and the great transformation that marketing strategies of traditional companies are suffering. Therefore, I would like to highlight three major transformations shared by marketing strategies in both worlds:
Substitution of traditional communication channels through direct digital channels
The first of the transformations has to do with the different nature of the channels used. If normally the parties and the traditional companies based their strategies on the use of the communication organs of the Party and the use of massive channels (TV, posters, etc.), unidirectional and impersonal media; In these elections we have seen that the irruption of social networks allows parties that their communication has been direct to the electorate, bidirectional and highly personalized.
A recent study indicates that two out of every three Spaniards consider social networks as a perfect channel to follow political news. In fact, there is evidence that the RRSS not only replace the traditional media, but that they are supplanting the usual communication mechanisms of the political parties, allowing political leaders to skip the party's filter and send the message directly to their party. audience. This is the only way to explain the success of Donald Trump in the US elections despite having the frontal rejection of much of the establishment of the Republican Party.
We change traditional communication models, more dependent on the parties, for direct communication models with the electorate. A great example comes from the US primary campaign, with the main Democratic Party candidate (Joe Biden) skipping the party's communication channels and television channels to formally announce his candidacy with live interventions on his personal channels. of Facebook and Twitter. Like digital, it disintermediates the brands of its distributors retail, also disintermediates the politicians of their parties.
Implementation of marketing in real time
The second feature is that it allows parties to have dynamic campaigns that adapt to events. Perhaps the best example comes from the campaign launched through WhatsApp by the Popular Party in real time during the electoral debates, distributing images that refuted the arguments of the other candidates and telling their followers to distribute them knowing that many of us were watching the debate. We had the second screen of the mobile turned on enriching the content of the debate.
Custom brand promises for each citizen
Finally, the use of social networks facilitates the personalization of the message, to obtain an electoral program tailored to each citizen and that only this citizen will receive. To paraphrase Groucho Marx: "If you do not like the electoral promise of my announcement … I have another." Specifically, the electoral parties have used more than 7,000 different announcements during the electoral campaign only in FB, without counting the rest of the media.
And it seems that this transition to social networks works, at least if we stick to the collective imagination. In the same study mentioned above we find that 80% understand that networks are the perfect channel to win new voters while 41% say they have influenced their vote.
Finally, and because this phenomenon is here to stay and will probably evolve further, two questions arise for the future:
How will the digital disintermediation of candidates and the loss of relevance of political parties affect the democratic health of the country? This issue is especially serious if we take into account that, in many cases, parties act as modulators of the message of the candidates by counting the parties with long-term objectives dissociated from the more populist short-term objectives of the specific political candidacies.
On the other hand, by generating electoral programs specifically designed for each citizen, without having to make these public promises to the collective imagination, who will be able to demand that the candidates be held accountable for their electoral promises? Although Facebook has made available to all tools to identify political ads, this is not enough to guarantee the good work of the campaigns.
It seems that I am not only with these concerns, since the same acting Ombudsman has filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court considering that the Organic Law on Data Protection that we mentioned above and gives rise to all this development lacks "normative guarantees" and conclusive, precise and effective limitations ", with the aim of preventing us from having a case like Cambridge Analytica in our country.
Álvaro Gómez is country manager of Elogia Spain
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