We live in an age where, right at our fingertips, an abundance of information is available to us. For governments, this can be quite problematic if the opportunity is not harnessed appropriately. In jurisdictions like ours, where political and current issue commentary rules the day on our social media feeds, governments that are not actively trying to control the narrative can oftentimes be faced with the difficult task of earning the public’s trust.
Gone are the times when your local MP could have relied on traditional media to promote their platform. Whereas in the past there would be a waiting game for the benefits of traditional media – paid advertising via radio, television, and print – to come to fruition, social media has indeed changed the game.
With the proliferation of smartphones and social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, brands, and in this case, governments, no longer have to roll the dice - hoping their messaging makes it in front of their target audience. Now, with social media advertising amassing a healthy portion of most marketing budgets, the lag in time marketers once had to endure has drastically been reduced.
Thus, it is incredibly important that governments take advantage of it. Between competing narratives being put in the social sphere from aspiring political factions and their supporters, opposing special interest groups and other detractors, a government that already has its hands full running a country cannot afford to spend most of its time combating misinformation and opposition propaganda.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon a government to ensure that it is communicating with its citizens in an authentic, thoughtful and consistent manner. And of course, while traditional media shouldn’t be ignored altogether, using digital media is the best way to maintain the lines of communication with the general public.
Here are a few reasons why.
It’s become a necessity to daily life
From catching up with friends and family to checking out the weather, human beings have become increasingly reliant on social media and have made it a daily necessity in their lives. A survey performed by The Manifest revealed that 86 percent of Americans use social media at least once a day, with 72 percent doing so multiple times a day. Remarkably, both statistics showed an increase from 2017 to 2018, and sure enough, predictions are already being made that this trend will likely continue. By 2021, research suggests that 3.1 billion people will be social media users.
That being the case, it makes perfect sense for governments to cut through the clutter and meet their citizens where they’re at.
With marketing budgets having finite resources, it is essential to get the most bang for your buck. Currently, 97 percent of marketers swear by social media’s cost-effectiveness, as it is perhaps the most versatile mode of marketing there is. A key advantage of opting to concentrate your marketing budget in social media advertising versus traditional media advertising can be revealed by analyzing your cost per impression (CPM) – that is how much does it cost to get your messaging in front of a pair of eyeballs.
On average, to reach 1,000 people, mediums like TV, newspaper, and radio cost $28, $16 and $10, respectively. One may think that is reasonable until they realize how little you can spend on social media advertising to do the same. With as little as $2.50, you can reach 1,000 people that can readily engage with your content. Additionally, factoring in labour and rate increases for advertising during peak times on TV and radio, the decision to shift more marketing dollars to social media advertising becomes a no-brainer.
It can increase trust
One of the biggest hurdles in governance is earning the trust of the electorate. By creating content that speaks to the issues that affect the population, governments insert themselves directly into the conversations that matter as active contributors. As transparency has become a major buzzword in politics, the desire of the general public to be more informed must be met by a government willing to discuss the issues that matter.
As governments are exploring more ways to combat misinformation and fake news, in some countries, considerations are being given to enacting legislation to quell this phenomenon. Alternatively, a government that is actively engaged with its electorate can also fight the spread of misinformation. By communicating to the public first, governments can evoke the confidence of its people and also position itself as an authority on government-related information in the public sphere.
Speak directly to your target audience
So much has to go right with a traditional advertising campaign. Did they change the channel to check the score of the football game during the commercial break? Did they have time to pick up the paper this morning? Are they streaming content during the morning commute instead of listening to the radio? All these questions should be asked when a government is considering the rollout of its marketing campaign. The consensus among marketers is that it makes more sense to meet the target consumers of your information where they’re at instead of taking a gamble on traditional media and possibly coming up short.
Through likes, comments and shares, social media engagement tools provide a wealth of information to communications teams. Getting an idea of what subject matter resonates most with the people you want to hear from allows you to test and refine strategies to create more informed policies and government programs. Additionally, there is also the benefit of having a populace that appreciates that what matters to them also matters to you.
As the tide continues to shift and the combination of more people using social media coupled with more brands in the private and public sectors becoming hipped to the benefits of sound social media marketing practices, the potential for citizen-centered government communication is limitless.
Whether you’re in the private sector or in the public sector as a government, political party or non-profit organization, our team at Fincastle Media Group has proven success in this arena and would be happy to work with you on your next campaign.