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Leveling the Field on Social

I attended a session on social media strategy last week where the presenter emphasized the point that “social media levels the playing field,” in the sense that a tiny start-up or a grassroots not-for-profit are on the same level as major consumer giants like Nike or Apple.

This…might be a stretch. Nike and Apple have teams of graphic designers pushing out special visuals, they have community managers talking to different audiences online, celebrities being paid to share their content and they’ve got the money to boost posts and run highly targeted ad campaigns. Compared to your one-person shop and limited budget.

But perhaps, there is some truth to it. It is true that for organic content, you are using the same medium and once you’ve built an audience and earned Page Likes, you are delivering your message in much the same way every other brand in the world is. Even if Facebook limits organic reach to about 3%-5%, here are three quick ways to help reduce the gap between your organization and the bigger players.

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Humour comedy club

Successfully Using Humour to Generate Political Engagement

The marriage of comedy and politics dates back to MAD magazine covers, thoughts of Kevin Nealon and Norm Macdonald taking shots on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or maybe it was Roger Abbott’s Jean Chretien impressions and the whole Air Farce troupe. More recently, Rick Mercer and Jon Stewart come to mind.

But the digital age has brought about more opportunities to push out biting comedy clips than ever before, and increasingly groups are using that tactic to involve young people. It’s not as simple as just putting up goofy clips to earn a laugh, though. Using comedy for political engagement is a tough balance.

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Using listicles

How You Can Use Listicles, Too

The BuzzFeeds and Vices of the world have cemented listicles as a viable method to share information quick and far. This election, listicles have been bouncing around the web as a new style of political reporting. So why do they work so well?

SHORT AND SUCCINCT

Listicles can be lengthy, but good ones have short points. This makes it easy for the reader to scan a story and quickly comprehend the major arguments.

MULTIMEDIA

Most listicles feature a photo or video after each and every point, making them engaging and easy to follow. The most successful listicles typically deploy comedy in those photos and videos to add a lighter edge to politics – typically a “serious” subject area.

EASY TO SHARE

Listicles are designed to be shared, so they’re packed full of language that’s meant to resonate with the reader. Unlike objective hard news stories, listicles can be built to entice agreement or anger, and then prompt the reader to share within their own networks for confirmation.

Local news hashtags

Using Local News Hashtags to Your Advantage

Anyone following this election has already become familiar with a few hashtags, namely #elxn42, #cdnpoli and #election2015. All organizations are vying for valuable space in that stream, but breaking through is a difficult task.

That’s why we recommend targeting local news hashtags to ensure your message is seen. For example, here in Ottawa we use #ottnews when talking about a local issue. Similar hashtags exist across the country and are important sources of information for the public and media alike, boosting your opportunity to attract media coverage.

This doesn’t work for everything, obviously. Big, national issues are not, by definition, local news. But don’t write off an issue too quickly. Try to find local angles and build those in. If you want to focus on health care, look at hospitals in the region and see if they’ve made any recent news. If you work for youth engagement, see if local post-secondary institutions have received public attention. Then alter your message on a national issue to be relevant to local level, and benefit from increased engagement with that audience.

Reaching millennials

Finding the Millennials in the Election

Amidst the conversations of the role social media will play this election, a number of emerging platforms have been largely ignored. We’ve already written about theparties’ poor efforts to connect with students on traditional media, but how about on the online spaces millennials actually enjoy? While all of the leaders are active on Facebook and Twitter, millennials are increasingly joining online spaces where their parents don’t quite “get it.”

According to a 2015 study by Forum Research, 32% of Canadians aged 18-32 are on Instagram. Among leaders? Only Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper have accounts, and neither are particularly good at it – both simply re-hash content from their Facebook profiles.

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Third-party advertising

Social Media and Third-Party Advertising

As more groups turn to social media to reach large audiences fast, Canada’s election advertising laws scramble to remain as relevant as possible.

The world of third-party advertising can be a bit tricky, but there is one rule that should guide all efforts: any time you are paying to have something appear, you should assume it’s third-party advertising.

That means ads in newspapers, on television, broadcast on the radio or banner ads on websites all count as election advertising and need to be accounted for.

But how about on social media, the wild west of elections advertising?

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