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Social Media Lessons from the Democratic Debate

Updated: Feb 11


Regardless of your political persuasion, we all know that social media has been a powerful force in elections. Candidates use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get their message directly to voters; the media uses social channels to push their coverage out to wider audiences; and everyone you know is sharing articles and opinions on their Facebook wall and Twitter account.

With all of this activity comes positives and negatives: it is much easier than ever to be informed about what is going on; but it is also very easy for folks to be misinformed, or to THINK they’re informed simply because they’ve scanned headlines on Facebook.

These same issues come into play for brands – and if you’re a smaller company, start-up, or locally-focused business, failing to effectively managing the chatter about your company on social media can result in real opportunity and revenue loss. So, what can we learn from the current Democratic primary season that can help you effectively manage your message?

Google Searches Are a Real Metric of Success

Google “Kamala Harris + Google Search” and you’ll see that her interaction with Joe Biden in the second day of the Democratic Candidate’s debate resulted in a huge spike in people searching for information about her and about Biden’s stance on the issue of busing; she also became the top trending hashtag on Twitter really fast.

Lessons for marketers: You never know what might spark people to look for you and your business on the Web and social media. But you do know you WANT them to search for and find you. (1) Be ready with a website that shows off who you are and what you know; (2) build and maintain social accounts that are active, engage users and provide useful information for your target customers; and (3) make sure you’re proactive about SEO so your prospects find you – and find your website, where you lay out the case for your business – right away.

Everyone’s Opinion Has Weight

Social media is a great equalizer – and that’s not always a good thing. If you’re scrolling by quickly, a shared article from a personal blog looks about the same as an article from the Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. And whether you notice the source or not, the message can get inside your brain and affect how you feel about a candidate. That’s how “fake news” gets spread around.

Lessons for marketers: Everyone is a potential influencer: A disgruntled customer, a competitor, a random person who hasn’t ever interacted with you but mistook your company for the one they saw on Facebook that did something they didn’t like. First – strive for excellence in client service in real life – but also have a plan for when things go haywire on social media. Monitor your accounts, respond to criticism, and proactively manage the conversations you are part of online.

Fight fair and respect the competition

After the first Democratic debate, some memes and tweets questioning Kamala Harris’s background started circulating on social channels. A great many of her competitors immediately tweeted out condemnations of the mean-spirited tweets. This has had a positive effect on all of their reputations. They clearly want to beat her – but they don’t want to beat up on her.

Lessons for marketers: Stay positive. And give other businesses, partners, and even competitors (when it makes sense) a shout out on your blog, in social posts, etc. Setting your business up as a resource – and a positive member of the community – can increase your influence and help you rise to the top as a company with which people want to do business.

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