On Tuesday, voters in the province of British Columbia re-elected the governing Liberals. Up until Election Day, polls had placed the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) in the lead. However, the Liberals ended up gaining seats once the votes were settled.
In the wreckage of this apparent collapse in NDP vote, observers are looking for answers. One area analysts are examining was the weak turnout from younger voters, specifically the 18-29 year-olds that naturally favour the left-leaning NDP. If that is indeed the case, it stands to reason that a strong, integrated online campaign may have assisted the NDP to a better result.
Of course, both parties integrated social media on some level – largely to communicate campaign messaging. The NDP’s social media offerings included mostly passive efforts such as Facebook cover photo templates and an (albeit well-designed) iPhone/iPad app that focused on providing information on the campaign.
More than their opponents, the NDP could stand to benefit from a complete integration of online and social media efforts with their offline campaign activities. One that focuses on two way commuication and mobilization, not merely repeating the message of the day.
Rather than attempt to match the Liberals in ad buy spend, a greater benefit would be to take a fraction of that money and invest it in a digital platform that can power real engagement efforts – one that speaks to that important younger cohort on their turf and buttresses the natural advantage the NDP has in the digital space.
All too often, social media is the final layer on top of a communications plan; a channel to post key messages. The kind of integration that offers a real benefit is baked in from the beginning and is approached as a component equally important to a campaign plan as any other.
The good news for the BC NDP is that they have four years to invest, test and refine such an approach. But they need to start today.