Digital campaigns play a pivotal role in the election campaigns of the Western world, be they on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Around the world, the digital election campaigns add up to the traditional media channels, such as TV, radio and the printed press. In Israel, however, the conventional media is nearly completely void of political advertising due to the Election Campaign Law, which prohibits sponsored TV or radio campaign and limits the exposure on the printed press. The election campaigns, therefore, focus on classic public relations, leaving the main battles to debates, interviews, and other tactics on TV channels and radio shows dealing with current events.
But when it comes to paid-for advertising, the digital media reigns supreme. The parties have every reason to invest large amounts of money in the digital channels, primarily Facebook. They create videos and promote them at a high cost, so they reach the audience they target. Indeed, the ability to reach out to a precisely defined audience it the great advantage of Facebook and other digital tools. The parties segment their audiences by age, geographic region, and sometimes by occupation. They draw up lists of supporters and opponents and engage in many more cross-sections.
The only place where one can air the election videos, admittedly the most effective political campaign tool, is on the digital media: social networks and popular websites.
Israel is currently in a strange situation, at the height of an election campaign, which is the third one over the past 12 months after no party succeeded in forming a government in the previous two rounds. Throughout the three campaigns, I have been following the videos of the different parties closely. The professional level of most of them is disappointing. They can be described as “entertaining” or “sophisticated,” but none of them can be defined as “effective,” namely conveying a single, clear-cut message that stays with the people who watched it. In a way, these videos are like a good TV commercial, which you never remembered what it was trying to advertise.
More than anything else, voters are motivated by fear of something. A pointed clip that plays on that fear drives voters into voting for what they believe will protect and assuage them.
Instagram is another key tool, especially among younger audiences. Most parties’ use of this medium is pretty banal, replaying the same videos while attempting to engage the audience with the Story and its features. While these techniques may have some effect, they miss on motivating younger users, who are known for low voting rates, into participating actively in the elections. I believe targeted Instagram campaigns, that would depict voting as a trendy act, including through the use of social media celebrity, would have been far more effective.
Much smaller than Facebook, but with an impact that must not be overlooked is Twitter. As evidenced by recent developments in the USA, Twitter is also the favorite platform of journalists, politicians, the media pros, and celebrities. This clique tool is useful in transmitting messages to the media and the key opinion leaders, who then act as pipelines that carry the message to the public at large.
Roni Rimon is a strategic consultant and partner at Rimon-Cohen & Co. He specializes in crisis management, publicized struggles, and strategic consulting to business, capital market, legal and technology clients. Rimon has orchestrated elections campaigns, including the one in which Benjamin Netanyahu was elected as Prime Minister and for the Labor Party under the former minister of defense, Amir Peretz.
RCPR is an official member of the GlobalCom PR Network.