Written by Tom Jennings
An effective political communications strategy can transform a campaign, no one can dispute that.
But whilst the need for comms is essential, where your comms strategy is most effective is changing rapidly.
In particular, 2019 will see a double-down on two of Facebook’s 2018 experimental app features.
Additionally, if you want to go where the people are in 2019, your vehicle for message needs entirely rethinking.
Below I’ve picked out five key digital trends that are set to transform political communications in 2019.
So email isn’t dead, but with industry average open rates getting to as low as 14%, it really is on its’ last legs.
Of course, still email out your newsletters and CLP updates to meet member expectations but 2019 is the year to rethink your vehicle for message.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger continue to grow exponentially, with 1.3 billion monthly messenger users and over 55 billion messages being sent every day via WhatsApp. But the strongest argument to include them in your comms strategy, is they’re found to have a 90% open rate.
Member engagement would benefit most from their inclusion; directly corresponding with members to mobilise them for a campaign day; setting up a broadcast list to alert members of events; or create a group chat for the campaign team or CLP exec to liaise within.
For Messenger, you’ll simply need an account and WhatsApp simply connects to your own phone number.
A chatbot acts as a virtual concierge in any comms strategy, responding to a Facebook user’s enquiry and assisting them to get the right help, before a human would need to jump in directly (although you can do at any time).
Their effectiveness in 2018 for tens of thousands of Facebook Pages to automate basic customer support, will be a catalyst for further adoption by thousands more accounts throughout 2019.
How could one help you? In a fast-moving office where the flow of case work is constant, having the ability to streamline what comes through Facebook and seamlessly categorise a resident’s issue without any staff time required, will make for a less stressful and more efficient way of working.
By 2022, it's estimated that chatbots will help businesses save over £6 billion per year.
The nature of politics is to win the argument, and as politicians we have to continually market ourselves as the best person to represent our communities.
The trouble sometimes can be that we aren’t always the best or right communicator for a particular narrative - here’s where local influencers can help.
Influencer marketing is a type of word-of-mouth marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your message to a larger and already engaged audience.
While influencer marketing is not a new trend, the focus is on local influencers for 2019. Sadly, for anyone but a politician, this is a much simpler task.
Brands can buy space on an influencer’s platform or simply pay them to endorse their products, last year over £1 billion was spent on Instagram influencers alone.
For politicians to make the most of influencer marketing, our currency is our relationships with local gatekeepers and community leaders.
These are people who (if they are on social media - check this!) can not only carry your message and increase its’ credibility but grow your own online following too by linking to your social media channels.
Influencers can be crucial to local activism, whether it be a food bank appeal or political campaign.
Having a local influencer back you in way of attending an event or promoting your petition not only helps you reach a wider audience but also builds your trustworthiness with an already engaged audience.
Additionally, at election time an authentic endorsement from one of these people can dramatically increase turnout for you.
Every year, video content continues to grow, and in 2019, video content is expected to once again dominate social media spheres.
This is especially true for live videos in 2019.
Having always been popular on YouTube, the trend has now taken over Facebook and Instagram, where followers now even get a notification when you have gone live so that they can tune in real-time.
Its’ ephemeral nature is incredibly powerful in creating a sense of urgency to hear your message but also, it opens up a two-way conversation between you and your viewers as they can comment below your video which is viewable to you, meaning you can respond to questions real-time.
However understandably, anything can happen live, so it’s not for everyone.
If you feel more comfortable with a prepared script and the ability to do more than one take, there is one simple rule for video in 2019.
You must subtitle your videos, no ifs, no buts.
75% of Facebook users cite watching video without sound on so if you don’t subtitle, three quarters of your audience won’t get your message.
It’s best to scribe your video directly in edit but YouTube does have a free subtitling feature which allows you to download an SRT file for Facebook.
Snapchat revolutionised video messaging in 2011 but has since struggled to compete, with Facebook’s Stories feature surpassing them in 2018.
While Facebook can feel repetitive at times, Stories - Facebook’s/Instagram’s rival to snapchat- is currently redefining reactionary content.
Hosted at the top of timelines, both Facebook and Instagram are pushing this new feature hard, in a winning battle against Snapchat.
Lasting for just 24 hours, user content’s temporary nature makes it perfect for behind the scenes snaps, whether it be practicing a speech, capturing a special meeting, or performing a quick shout-out - use Stories for surprise day-to-day content, making followers feel like they're journeying with you.
Functionalities such as polls, questions, emoji sliders and swipe-up links all provide an easy and immediate way to connect with your audience too and allow them to react to your message in the moment.
Posting daily won’t be for everyone but be sure to make great use of Stories at Conferences and community events throughout 2019.
If any of above is something you’d like to explore more in 2019 but feel you or your team would like some guidance along the way, We Are Civitas are on hand to help you transform how you speak to your most important people.
Simply click here to get in touch.