Like him or hate him, Trump won. It’s a sensitive subject that evokes volatile emotions. Our office includes people who voted both for and against him, and considering the polarizing climate of this election, I feel fortunate that we’re still one happy family. I was torn on whether to write about the election because I personally believe it’s a good idea to keep politics and work separate, no matter how intertwined they may be for our future. However I decided to write about this because there is so much to learn about how Trump won. More specifically, there are a number of valuable lessons small businesses can use in their campaigns to out-maneuver the competition by maximizing social media marketing.
I know there has been a lot of chatter about the “echo chamber” effect of data curation, and I believe that played a part in the outcome of our election. This is clearly evident on Facebook if you simply take note of the stories that appear in your feed and click here to see how you’re profiled. You’re probably being fed articles that align with your profile. I remember a meeting 5 years ago where I was voicing concerns to my team about the risks associated with such data curation. This stems from my belief that Facebook isn’t just a “social” environment, and Google isn’t just a “search” engine. There is a huge overlap, a grey area, where they are also media channels as well. I was concerned at that time because there was a revolution happening in Iran. The “Green Revolution,” they dubbed it. The Iranian government blacked out the net to limit international news coverage. This was important. It was relevant. It was historic. It should have been big news. But I grew concerned as I ran into youth at church and in my community who were being fed info about the Kardashians or their sports teams while knowing very little about such an important geopolitical event. That concern 5 years ago has evolved into the “echo chamber” effect of this election, and while it impacted the election in ways both good and bad, I don’t feel like that is the why Trump won.
Here are some useful tidbits explaining why Trump won, and what we as small business owners can take from his campaign.
- Running a digital marketing campaign is not the same as running a digital-first campaign. Running a social campaign is not the same as running a social-first campaign. Hillary greatly outspent Trump in media buys. However, a bulk of her spend went towards TV. In fact, the Clinton campaign spent nearly double on TV ads compared to her rival. The Trump campaign didn’t spend as much overall, but a majority of what they did spend was dedicated to digital… namely social media. Donald Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, credits Facebook and Twitter for winning the election. One of Hillary’s digital managers, Andrew Bleeker, admitted “I think the Trump campaign did that extremely well… They spent a higher percentage of their spending on digital than we did.” The shift has happened. There is a time and place for traditional media. However, it’s now time for digital to lead the marketing mix instead of simply being a part of the mix. It’s time for social to be a pillar of your campaign. It’s time to be digital-first and social-first.
- Use the Social apps that matter. I’m going to go against many industry colleagues by saying that you don’t need to be active on every social platform. Rather, choose the ones that best fit your audience. The Trump campaign didn’t focus on trying to do it all. They learned early on that Facebook was the best for fundraising, while Twitter was the best for communication – it was his mouthpiece. Once they figured that out, they charged full speed ahead. We know small business owners are busy. Heck, we’re a small business ourselves so we feel for you. Managing a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Pinterest, Blog and Google social profile takes a lot of work. It eats up hours you don’t have. You don’t need them all. Identify the best use case for each platform and use only those that you find effective in terms of time and cost. Set your goals, figure out your target audience and pick only the relevant social apps that work for you.
- Filter, Filter, Filter. Both candidates did not frivolously spend money in every state. They spent based on who they were targeting, and they communicated the right message for each person. In essence, they spent more on the battleground states, especially as we neared election day. One of the biggest wastes in ad spend that we see from small businesses stems from the lack of targeting filters. With so many ways to pinpoint your potential customer, there’s no reason to waste spend. Whether it’s age, gender, geography, interests or behaviors, you can maximize your hard earned dollars and increase your conversion rates by constantly monitoring analytics and filtering out the noise. Who are your “battleground” customers? Who are your customers that you must win over in order to be a successful business? We call this your “buyer persona“.
Trump won. Those two words can trigger sadness, anger, gloating, elation or indifference, depending on your views. Regardless of how you feel about the man, there are some masterful things his campaign managers did to succeed. These are the same things we as small business owners can do to succeed.