Social media is an essential tool used by all businesses, and has become a critical consumer touch-point in our now digital-first world. Yet, with the advent of the 2020 election in the U.S., companies of all sizes are dealing with the same singular issue; how do you build an online community during chaotic, polarizing events?
One misstep and a business could ruin its relationship with a large portion of their consumers. This is why it’s imperative to understand and actively strategize social media posts to be flexible, comprehensive and reflective of what your business stands for. Here are a few key principles to consider when planning social media campaigns during uncertain or tense events.
Social Media Algorithms
As social media platforms change, so do their algorithms. Every platform has its own unique algorithms meaning a one-size-fits-all approach won’t generate the best results. For example, Facebook users will have content from groups shown on their newsfeed more often than posts from a page. If you don’t have a business-related Facebook group yet, it’s not too late to set one up. Additionally, when you tag someone in an organic post, it increases the post’s likelihood of being shared by the person tagged. These two areas of reaching people and “beating the algorithm” are what you should focus on during election season in order for your content to be seen organically.
Although algorithms on social media platforms differ, something that boosts organic posts across platforms is engagement (likes, shares, comments), meaning you want to be intentional about the content you are creating and curating for your pages. Short videos are an excellent way to grab someone’s attention and often lead to at least one form of engagement on the post. Additionally, you want to create content that asks questions, letting people respond. When your community takes the time to leave their opinion, be sure to reply. Your response shows that you are active and interested in what your followers have to say.
Crafting Your Message During Election Season
2020 has been a year of great change and challenge. Your small business has most likely had to adapt in ways you never imagined. In the past, it was normal for news feeds to become more political in the weeks leading up to Election Day. However, this year our newsfeeds have been political for months. With a pandemic, calls for social justice, and a Presidential Election all within the same calendar year, social media has changed, too. While some complain of the negativity, they see on social media and critique it, others view it as a place to learn about and share important information.
Your primary goal as a business on social media should be to build a community with your clients and customers and share content they want to see. It is crucial to be intentional about crafting a clear message. A simple strategy to implement is to share inspirational and positive content in addition to general information about your business. Whether you share an inspiring quote or a philanthropic post, be sure to include questions in your captions, asking your followers about their preferences. Make your page a place where people want to interact with one another. Take a moment to reflect on your business’ mission statement and consider sharing that with your followers so that they can learn more about what drives your business. As we approach Election Day, consider sharing content that relates to voter registration and early voting information. If you are a local business, be sure to share area-specific content that your followers will easily use and share. If you are a national business, share voting resources that can be localized or pertain to the entire population. Some days, you may feel hesitant out of fear of posting the wrong thing. It’s vital that you stick to your company’s mission, engage authentically with your followers, and strive to have your pages be a positive online space so that your social media presence is trustworthy.
Paid Social Media
While it can feel like a constant battle to stay up-to-date on each social media platform’s best practices and algorithms, one guaranteed way to ensure that your content is seen is through paid ads. Paid social media requires a dedicated strategy and openness to flexibility. The current cost of running ads on Facebook and Instagram, for example, is higher than it was even just a few weeks ago. This is due to the increase in the amount of money being put behind political ads. Facebook announced that no political ads will run a week before Election Day, which means that your ads are more likely to show up during that time than they are right now. This highlights the need for flexibility in your budget and your schedule. Your ad strategy should have specific goals but allow for the flexibility to shift how you achieve those goals.
Using these strategies, your business can be seen during the election season. Through this challenging time, be sure to plan your digital marketing so that your business can thrive, beat the algorithms, and your mission can be heard.
Emily Lenning is the CEO and founder of Blossom Marketing. She has experience managing social media for large brands, growing social media pages, branding, and eCommerce.