Functions of Digital Marketing Tools in Winning Elections in Nigeria and Africa
The Internet has become an important infrastructure for political campaigns, and digital tools have become pervasive campaigning devices. They are deeply integrated into the structures and practices of political organizations.
Over the years, the organizational structure of campaigns has changed to accommodate digital tools. Campaigns are adapting their strategies and practices to newly available data sources that are computable through digital tools
and extend their symbolic performances of politics to the online realm to influence media coverage and public perceptions.
This framework is for understanding how campaigns can use digital tools. This is based on digital tools’ potential contribution to four central campaign functions:
Organizational Structures and Work Routines
Digital tools have impacted campaigns at the fundamental level of organizational structures and daily work routines. Specialists in the use of digital tools have become ever more central in the organizational structures of campaigns and have started to become part of the campaign team. Specialists have also become crucial in decisions on how to allocate resources, evaluate activities, and produce campaign content.
Finally, campaigns and politicians use public reactions to politics on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter increasingly as informal cues to assess public opinion.
An ‘Influencer’ role in the information spaces online
Campaigners’ use Web sites to post information and thereby circumvent the gatekeeping function of traditional media. The presence of political actors in political communication spaces online remains an important function in political campaigns. This is especially true as the Internet is increasingly becoming a trusted news source. Campaigns should use their web sites very actively to provide interested visitors with direct unfiltered information.
Political campaigners should also use digital tools to interact with political bloggers to prompt them to cover specific aspects of the campaign in the hope that this will attract coverage by traditional media.
In other words, they should use digital tools to indirectly influence the communication environment during a campaign. This process is enabled by traditional media’s willingness to incorporate information found on blogs, YouTube, or on Twitter in their coverage.
Support in Resource Collection and Allocation
Digital tools have proved very valuable for generating political donations in U.S. campaigns, and this has enhanced the status of politicians. In addition, digital tools appear to be increasingly important media to mobilize and coordinate volunteers. It is also very possible for campaigns to use digital tools to collect and aggregate data on potential voters and supporters. Based on these data, campaigns will build models of voter mobilization, persuasion, as well as individuals’ propensity to donate money.
Public Relationship, Candidates Branding and Reputation Management
Digital tools can also be used very consciously by political actors to convey specific attributes of candidates and parties. This has involved creating digital content that is in step with online communication culture, to attract media coverage focusing on innovative or controversial usage practices, as well as to illustrate campaign momentum.
Campaigns now use rhetoric associated with the digital revolution and try to attract endorsements from public intellectuals and entrepreneurs prominent in the development of digital tools. Campaigns can also use digital tools to create humorous or controversial content that will attract media coverage focusing on their usage practices.
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