Back in January Swedish newspaper SVD led with an article outlining how most Swedes don’t have a clue about the EU Elections in June.
Just a few weeks from the elections themselves it seems the political parties in Sweden still aren’t reaching out to their audience and engaging them in discussions.
I read a daily newspaper, occasionally watch TV in the evening when I have time and live in front of my computer during the working day. I’m often on Twitter, FriendFriend and Facebook talking with my network of contacts and “friends”. In the last week I haven’t come across a single invitation to dialogue about the election with any of the parties involved.
Sure, I haven’t gone out there looking for it. But I do monitor keywords like “Stockholm” on Twitter Search and I would have thought something cropped up there that caught my eye.
It’s Good to Talk – online
The point I am getting at here is that whether you’re a political party seeking votes or even a business, you have to take the conversation to your audience. You can’t just hope they’ll pick up the necessary from traditional TV, radio or newspaper campaigns. Hell, I don’t even take in the messages they’re trying to get plastered on the back of busses.
Nowadays the audience is so bombarded with messages that we tune out a lot of the time.
Use Social Media to Engage
Now here’s the rub. What if someone from one of the parties was following “Stockholm” on Twitter Search and saw me mention the city? They might then check out my profile, see I live in TÃ¤by, and then tweet me with something along the lines of:
@jonbuscall What improvements to the environment in TÃ¤by do you want?
Sure, I might ignore this. But my curiosity might also be raised and I might enter into a brief discussion with them as long as they didn’t hit me with a cheesy: @jonbuscall Vote for us!
If, however, they talked to me in a way that made me feel I was being listened to or valued, I might even ReTweet their message. Or I might write a blog post about how Political Party X knows how to use social media to work an audience. Or I might just tell people about my experience (and their message) over coffee.
In this way, I could unknowingly become an ambassador for the party, helping others in my direct network understand more about the EU elections. Even if I don’t specifically go out there and say: vote for X.
Don’t Just Broadcast
This is the value of social media campaigning. Rather than broadcasting cheesy images on TVs, buses and billboards that I and most of my fellow Stockholmers ignore, by engaging, talking and listening to me they could win a voter over. And not just that; I could be a voter that promotes them.
What’s this got to do with business?
Everything! Just switch political party for coffee house. I tweeted the following yesterday.
Let’s imagine BIG COOL COFFEE see this tweet and then tweet me back:
@jonbuscall: what coffee did you use? Gevalia? or Blue Java?
As coffee fuels my working day I might give them five minutes of my time.
Maybe they give me a free tip:
@jonbuscall: wrap the cafetiere with a tea towel as you let the coffee brew. It will keep it nice and hot.
If they took the initiative to follow up with a tweet a day or so later with: @jonbuscall: hey jon, next time your in town have a coffee on us tinyurllink-to-shop
I’d definitely check them out. And if the coffee’s great they could become my regular point of call next time I’m at Ã–stermalm.
What I’m getting at here is that social media can help you build your brand and make connections with customers (whether they’re voters or coffee drinkers) one person at a time. Although this might sound slow, the potential is massive because if you turn customers into ambassadors for your brand, your brand will grow as people start to promote you to their friends because you offer true value.