As the 2016 election cycle cranks up, we’ve seen the candidates express themselves through all sorts of media. The candidates have appeared on talk shows. They have been interviewed by reporters and radio hosts. They have expanded on the 2012 candidates’ use of social media, taking their online presence to the next level. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidates each have a strong presence on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram—you name it, candidates have it.
Millennials are a much different breed of voters than their parents, getting their information in different ways. Websites like Vox or TheSkimm provide the type of condensed news articles we can quickly devour on our morning commutes or during short breaks from work. Social media serves as another huge source of information for young voters and that is exactly what the candidates are aiming to capitalize on with their social media campaigns. The young vote is extremely important to these candidates, and they have found the perfect media to attract Millennials.
Here are five lessons organizations looking to reach out to Millennials can learn from the 2016 Presidential Race.
- Interact with your audience. Clinton, Sanders and Trump have all live-tweeted the other party’s debates, inserting their own point of view into the online conversation. They (or their campaigns) will also engage followers who ask questions, share a meme, or voice their support. This reinforces loyalty, or drives undecided voters to learn more about the candidates.
- Present your ideals and plans. Social media is the perfect place to give people a concise outline of your organization’s values and beliefs. Sanders and Clinton do this daily by responding to developing stories or highlighting their stance on hot-button issues. If your organization has a unique perspective or solution, share it.
- Explore new social media channels. Facebook and Twitter are mainstream channels at this point—millennials often find their parents (and grandparents) on these networks. If you want to reach younger audiences, branch out and try other social media sites. Clinton’s campaign has embraced Snapchat, although there have been questions about her authenticity on both Snapchat and Twitter throughout the campaign. Bernie Sander’s AMA on Reddit is a great example of finding an audience and engaging it in a new way.
- Show your organization’s personality. Share something your audience doesn’t usually see. Candidates are often formal and on-message at public events. Online, candidates have cut loose a little. Clinton has successfully used her social media campaign to seem more relatable and show off her sense of humor. When The Onion poked fun at Clinton’s perceived stiffness with a piece titled “I Am Fun,” her twitter account was quick to share it to her followers with a joke, earning brownie points with Millennials. Trump and Ben Carson have shown their funny sides and humor tends to do good things for a campaign. But…
- Think before you post. Do not make the mistake of posting something that might be offensive. Any mistake you make will be amplified because your audience will share that error with their followers. Look at Mike Huckabee, who was polling high enough to make the first three Republican debates but has since faltered after he tweeted a racist joke during the democratic debate. He then defended his mistake with a tweet that insulted the people he offended in the first place. Not surprisingly, Huckabee did not appear in the fourth GOP debate. If you think the post might not be well-received, don’t take the risk.