Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Targeted Social Marketing in Politics

Michelle Bachman’s campaign has a new social marketing strategy.  They created software so that people could put “Bachman for President” lawn signs into their virtual worlds like Farmville.  This seems pretty clever, but it fot me thinking.

It is a common practice now (since Obama in 2008) to use targeted Facebook advertising to find supporters.  They target demographic/psychographic combinations most likely to support their candidate and place ads on their FB page asking them to join the fan page, make a donation, etc.  So for example, Obama might target young people who have ‘liberal’ or ‘democrat’ in their profiles and/or are part of left wing-ish groups.
Perry might look for ‘conservative,’ ‘tea party” southern state residents.  I am sure the campaigns have a lot of research on exactly who to target.  These are much more cost effective than paying for a TV commercial that goes out to everyone.

But this opens up a potential can of worms.  I am not sure the campaigns are doing this, but they could.  What if a candidate knows that Social Security needs to be reformed but is afraid of alienating older voters?  He/she can send an ad saying that he supports reform to the younger demographics and a different ad saying that he supports current benefits to older demographics.  You can’t do this on TV, but on the targeted Internet . . . .

If they limited it to text ads, it wouldn’t make for a very salient investigative news story, so they would probably be safe from exposure except from groups that wouldn’t vote for them anyway.

Think any of them would do this?  Is it ethical?  What other creative strategies does the Internet open up?

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