What can the General Election 2015 teach us about content marketing?

Nina Cresswell from White Horse Digital takes a look at the UK General Election 2015 and what the major parties’ campaign strategies can teach us about content marketing.

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Can we predict the General Election this year? It’s hard to say. Where polls once weighed heavily between Labour and the Conservatives, we’re now seeing a sundry of parties slicing up the votes.

The Green Party, UK Independence Party and the Scottish National Party have seen huge surges in support, creating new factors the British public (not to mention the campaigners) have never had to deal with before.

The exciting part?

Business owners and marketing enthusiasts have front row seats to the first proper “digital election” in Britain: the strategies we’ve studied thoroughly finally brought to play on the political battlefield. As we approach ever closer to May the 7th, the campaign strategies are sure to become even more fascinating.

As our lives become increasingly Internet-charged; political parties are amping up their online campaigns. The success of Obama’s re-election campaign  in 2012 (resulting in the most retweeted photo of all time), ignited a serious interest in social media from the British parties  – and this year has seen more digital marketing than ever before.

What are we seeing most of? Infographics, memes, presentations, videos… production of this kind of visual media is increasing everyday, and can do wonders for brands. Why? 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual, so when you’re competing with other businesses; the easy you are to see, the better.

So, how have the parties approached content so far, and more importantly – what can we learn from them?

1. Find the right format

The Conservatives clear advertising advantage is money, with the party expected to outspend Labour 3:1. Working the news cycle has always been high priority for political parties, and traditional media is the primary focus for David Cameron’s campaign.

The majority of Conservative voters fit into an older age bracket, so, naturally, this classic approach to advertising is likely to appeal to that demographic.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, on the other hand, has said he aims to carry out 4 million face-to-face conversations with voters. As well as door-to-door canvassing, Labour have heavily invested in digital strategies: taking on Blue State Digital to run their campaigns (the same people who ran Obama’s in 2012).

Social media is fast, powerful and easily doable on a budget – plus it attracts a modern audience – precisely the people Labour want on board.

Party tip:

Put the right things under the right eyes on the right platform. Don’t jump on a social network simply because everyone else is doing it. Setting up an Instagram account when your demographic are over 60 years old is frankly a waste of time – do your research and find out where your audience are looking.

2. Adapt to your audience

Once you know who and where they are, it’s time to grab their attention.

What’s interesting are the pages Labour “likes” on Facebook. There’s only two, actually: one is Ed Miliband, the other is… Buzzfeed? An absurd tactic, but a very clever one, too. With 50% of Buzzfeed’s audience aged between 18-34 years old, and three quarters of it’s traffic coming from social sources – it’s the perfect content platform for a political party to channel.

Why? The majority of first time voters lean towards Labour, so targeting the demographic in a familiar format is crucial. Buzzfeed’s influence is evident on the Labour blog: they’ve embraced the ubiquitous listicle presentation of packaging content, with headlines such as “17 reasons not to trust David Cameron (to tackle energy bills)” and “5 things you need to know about Shape Your Future”.

Our brains naturally attempt to organise data, so lists are a great way to compile complicated issues into easily digested chunks. Not just for a younger demographic, either – mixing up your blog, website or brand content with list-based features is a lot more inviting – whatever the topic at hand. Just don’t take it overboard, click bait is not attractive, and definitely not trustworthy.

Party tip:

The world changes. Technology changes. We change. If you want to reach the eyes of the masses and create a steady growth of traffic to your site, you must keep up with trends in the behaviour of your audience.

3. Go visual, think human

The most important issue facing Britain is the NHS; the most important issue in marketing is connecting with an audience. It goes without saying that every party is trying to tackle the issue, and with this year’s NHS pledges all looking pretty promising (seriously, just try picking out the best one – it’s tough!), phenomenal marketing is required to rise above the competition.

The question is, how do you do it?

labour

greens

As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and press materials can gain thousands, even millions, of views with powerful, relevant images to compliment. Page views take a whopping increase (94% to be precise) when articles contain relevant images, particularly news and political content.

The mind can process images a lot quicker than the written word, and political parties are posting strong, emotive photos to quickly pass messages to the masses and sway opinions. A confident brand voice is crucial for taking presidency of your sector, and inclusive language such as the Green Party’s use of “save our NHS” and “our national treasure” builds a trusting relationship with your audience.

Party tip:

Find out what makes your audience tick and create content that deeply resonates with them on an emotional level. Inform, educate and inspire – you’ll soon become the go-to place in your industry.

Humanize yourself, creating striking copy and visuals a busy reader would find impossible not to share. Oh, and most of all – be relevant! Don’t sell me a bike, teach me how to ride it.

Nina Cresswell is a creative content strategist at White Horse Digital, a marketing agency that specialises in creating irresistible content for brands and businesses.

Linkedin | @nina_cresswell

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  1. April 16, 2015
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