Social Media Marketing Trends from the Election

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After nearly 18 months of campaigning and the most aggressive online marketing ever, it’s all over. Last week, the American public made the decision to re-elect President Barack Obama. While folks from every political affiliation are thrilled the darn thing is over, there’s no denying that the 2012 presidential election provided some truly memorable and valuable social media marketing hits and misses.

“Tweet or be tweeted about” was the Twitter rule of thumb during the campaign. Candidates who wisely used Twitter were able to address their opponents, discuss issues or post images from the campaign. Those who were less than prolific on Twitter were still subject to scrutiny and wound up getting hashtagged. President Obama embraced the platform and used it as a channel to motivate supporters. Others like Michelle Bachman, who could have used Twitter cleverly to talk to younger voters, continually missed the point of the channel and its effectiveness by tweeting negative messages. In fact, negative marketing was a huge turn-off on social media this year. Antony Young of Ad Age says negative ads from both sides did more than harm than good.

“According to the Wesleyan Media Project, negative ads between June and October accounted for 62.9 percent of spots, compared to 39.7 percent in 2008. I suspect that turned off voters and contributed to the apparent decline in voter turnout from 2008,” he writes.

The big star of social media campaigns this election had to be video. Every candidate, national and local, filled their Twitterfeeds and Facebook walls with videos. Whether it was live speeches from fundraisers or original online video creation direct from the politicians themselves, consumers couldn’t get enough of viral marketing. Pop culture was another huge social media trend during this campaign. References to Big Bird, Etch-a-Sketch and Jay-Z were all over social media. TV and the Internet provided the soundbites (binders full of women, anyone?) and social media turned them into cultural phenomenons.

The most fascinating social media marketing trend of the election, however, happened on both Facebook and Twitter. Memes and photos reigned supreme. We stress over and over again in these pages the importance of using memorable images on social media and Campaign 2012 proved our point beautifully. The photo of the President hugging the First Lady posted mere moments after his victory was announced became the most liked and retweeted image in both Twitter and Facebook history.

We suspect image-rich social media marketing is here to stay — for at least another four more years.

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