Update: The following is an article I wrote prior to the 2016 Presidential Elections. It discusses the state of social media momentum at that time based on each candidate. I think overall, my estimations were pretty relevant.
We are at a very critical time in history and the result of the upcoming US elections could have DRASTIC effects on both the future of our country and the world. The decisions in November could mean the difference between peace, security, economic prosperity or even, depending on the political climate of your particular country, life or death for you and your family. Things are that serious.
The time has come to ignore the cat pictures, the Oscars or whatever Kanye says and pay very close attention to the important topic at hand. It is time to take action and to take responsibility for your actions.
What I want to talk about here is a social strategy that will help your candidate win the election in 2016 and it’s very simple.
You do want them to win, right? Well, if so, keep reading.
Social Media is a Powerful Tool, But…
Social media is currently the primary driver for expressing, changing & manipulating public opinion on a global scale. What we do and say on social media has tremendous power and can directly effect how people share and develop opinions.
In this case, how it effects voting decisions.
The dark side of social media and politics is that what we say on social media is analyzed by government organizations, financial institutions, PR firms, corporations and most importantly, political parties to identify patterns of opportunity using software algorithms and analytics tools. Based on what they discover, they use either teams of people or automated software (bots) to manipulate social momentum on a mass level to promote their business or political agendas.
Despite the powerlessness we can feel by such a massive, corporate-political machine, social media still offers us a great advantage. What I am talking about here is the basic human interactions and opinions with which we can share between friends, family and social connections.
It’s the power of persuasion with people you have personal connections with and who trust your opinions.
Think, Before You Share!
I would encourage everyone to think very seriously about what you post on social media right now regarding politics and how it could potentially impact election results.
One simple post may not seem like much to you, but on a mass, collective level, it has a lot of power.
Unfortunately, WHAT you post, regardless of your intentions, also might have powerful reverse effects.
Conditioning, Conditioning, Conditioning!
Another factor which effects public opinion, especially in the media, is a process called Classical Conditioning, aka the old Pavlov’s Dog effect.
It begins with a simple process of repetition, where the brain begins rewiring itself to release certain chemicals based on a seeing or hearing repeated phrases, actions or stimulus. We see this in marketing with brands such as the red color of Coca Cola, aligning a perfume with sexual imagery, an annoying catchy melody in a terrible pop song, or in this case, political names and slogans.
Conditioning is a core tactic in hypnosis, brainwashing & propaganda, which over time, physically changes the brain chemistry so that it builds patterns of alignment & dependency to whatever has been repeated, even if the subject of the repetition is negative.
It is the first step in building an addiction.
In regards to politics, simply by repeating a candidate’s name, political slogan or sharing a MEME, even if it is negative and you oppose them, causes a conditioned response that gives leverage to that candidate
Sometimes negative MEMEs are even intentionally created to generate exposure to a brand because just by repeatedly seeing a name or image, creates subconscious patterns in people’s brains in connection with that brand or candidate.
The reason is that even a strong connection to a repeated “negative” creates a stronger bond than a non repeated “positive.” The result is that the brain becomes more comfortable by the chemicals it creates by being surrounded by the negative than the confusing, discomfort it feels when faced with the unfamiliar positive.
These patterns of alignment create herd mentality, which then becomes a social norm, which leads to people accepting, or at least living with the idea of a candidate that they don’t support.
We are literally building and spreading a chemical addiction to them on a mass scale, even if we hate them.
Here’s a simple example of how much conditioning is happening per candidate as of the time of this post. Despite political opinion, the numbers make it pretty clear who is in the lead, just by sheer volume.
Not happy with those results? Then you have to change the momentum. Here’s how:
The point here is to understand what is happening and don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Resist the urge to participate in the addictive skinner box mentality of sharing every little political “ha ha” moment on social media. Use it as an advantage, not as a virus, not as your controller.
Here’s how to apply this to social media and politics:
- If you want your candidate to win, then don’t contribute to building patterns of momentum for the opposition.
- Stop posting the names of the opposition and reposting their negative material. Let people know the name of the winner.
- Build strong patterns by focussing only on who you want to win and only post positive info on them.
- Fear is a stronger motivator than pleasure. (Sucks but it’s true.) Don’t focus on how bad the opposition is. Instead focus on the benefits of how your candidate will protect from the bad.
- Create your own posts, MEMEs and hashtags and share them instead of reposting others. If you don’t do it, the bots will and they sometimes have an alternative agenda.
- Follow your candidate. Unfollow the opposition. Post about them often. Numbers count.
- Use every social platform at your disposal. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, pinterest, forums, chats and messengers, dating sites, etc. Any place where you can potentially reach a lot of people. If it is on a personal and emotional level, even better.
- Make #hastags that promote your candidate, not the opposition.
- Spread your message globally. Some countries dont use or have access to the same social platforms we use in the west. China uses WeChat and Weibo for everything. In Japan, Line is popular. Global opinions matter.
Don’t contribute to the problem, contribute to the solution. Generate positive patterns that build strong chemical bonds which align to your chosen candidate. In a world where we feel powerless to determine world affairs, we still hold the power of our connections and our ability to influence them.
Thats how you win with technology and thats how you win elections.
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Let’s see what happens and best of luck in the elections.
Sean Earley is an American digital consultant, podcast host, speaker, publisher & music producer. He advises Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and organizations on innovation, new technology, strategy, communications, marketing & design. He is the host of several podcasts and makes regular appearances on international media platforms where he discusses the latest trends in technology, culture, business and politics.