It’s 2017 and we are all currently living in a digital whirlwind filled with filters, boomerangs, memes and Donald Trump. In times like this, engagement of your audience needs to take on new forms.
In a world flooded with social media giants such as good old Facebook, it’s hard to understand how a little man called Donald has awoken a digital beast within the political sector thanks to a touch of help from Zuckerberg’s Facebook advertising.
It’s no secret that the Trump presidential campaign spent a hefty amount of dollars of its digital budget on Facebook – $29 million to be precise. How? I hear you wonder. How does a man who was a featured extra on the classic Christmas film that is Home Alone become the president of the United States of America? Well, meet Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale. He is the ultimate puppeteer, controlling the Trump campaign and its uprise. And it seems we aren’t the only ones who occasionally slide into DMs, as his company received a message asking for him to create a website within two days, to which he replied “yeah, I’ll do it for $1,500”. From an initially small investment, his company was then paid $94 million by the end of the campaign, so join us while we really try and get our heads around how this came to be.
We’re all familiar with Facebook advertising and, let’s be honest, those sponsored posts are sometimes pretty juicy – we can scroll for hours and still be side-tracked by the latest video of a pug chilling on an inflatable unicorn. Just me? Well, shall we take a moment to speak about engagement.
The platform wasn’t used to broadcast edited messages, they created super highly targeted Facebook ads, and tested each one to understand the levels of engagement and to see which posts were receiving the most clicks. On an average day, 50,000 to 60,000 individual ads were being creatively conceptualised; adapting colours, language and overall content in order to get that coveted blue thumbs-up on any given post. This outreach was targeting rural areas where TV ads were not an option: queue Trump.
Micro-targeting of voters, combined with visual content, meant that Trump’s voice was speaking on a personal level to millions of people who may or may not have previously voted, but the ‘conversations’ that he was having with the masses were changing people’s perceptions and thus leads us to ‘America being great again’. Or is this all just ‘fake news’?
Whether fake news did or didn’t help Trump become a social media guru (and not forgetting the small job of being president of the United States of America), Facebook as a digital platform did. The platform allowed him to break down the barriers of traditional methods of campaigning, and instead invested in digital communications to ultimately dominate our whole media landscape. Although it can be said that not everyone is pro Trump, we should really appreciate the power of social media platforms. If Trump can evolve in the space of a year using Facebook, then why can’t we all?