Donald Trump’s recent ascent to the White House caused shock waves of disbelief around the world. Over in New Zealand, another unlikely aspiring politician also caused a stir — albeit on a much smaller scale – by placing third in the race to replace Len Brown as mayor of Auckland.
The politician in question is Chloe Swarbrick. If the name is unfamiliar, you may be curious about her background. Well, she’s not a seasoned local-body politician, a well-known businesswoman, or a celebrity.
Chloe Swarbrick is, in fact, a precocious 22-year-old who, up until October’s elections, no one had heard of.
Now, to you, third place may not sound all that impressive. However, consider this: Chloe collected around 5,000 more votes than the previous election’s main contender and one-time reality-TV personality John Palino. The two who finished ahead of her were ex-Labour Party leader Phil Goff (he won the mayoralty) and ex-Xero managing director Vic Crone.
She’s got to be rich
Perhaps surprisingly, Chloe didn’t have a bottomless ‘war chest’ to draw from – she had about NZ$9,000. As a result, her face was absent from the thousands of billboards that littered Auckland’s streets – billboards that were much too expensive. And, predictably, mainstream media showed little interest in her.
So, how did she do it?
While everyone else used the dusty old strategy of putting up billboards and posting pamphlets – which most of us never read – Chloe took a 21st century approach.
You see, by day, Chloe is a social media strategist. So, knowing too well that traditional media would gobble up her funds before she had a chance to say ‘down with Len Brown’, Chloe stuck to what she knows.
“Social media lets me, as it does with all candidates, create my own content. What social media and the internet did was democratise information… people can ask questions and get answers in real time,” Chloe told the New Zealand Herald.
Five social media tips
Of course, just being on social media isn’t enough. To be successful, you must:
- Add value – don’t create content for the sake of it. Make sure what you produce is informative and answers your audiences’ questions.
- Be relevant – stay on message. Being an expert baker doesn’t mean that talking about chocolate cakes will help your cause.
- Choose the right medium – what type of content does your audience prefer? Chloe made a lot of videos; however, you could write blogs, create memes or run competitions.
- Be consistent – set a publishing schedule and stick to it. This shows you are active and keeps audiences engaged.
- Be responsive – one wonderful thing about social media is that it enables you to engage with your audience in real time. So, be around for the conversation; when people comment, make sure you respond.
What can we learn from Chloe?
Most of us hold no political ambition. However, if you are reading this post, you probably run a business or a not-for-profit organisation. To achieve your goals, you need to reach out to your target customers or donors.
Before social media, ‘reaching out’ usually meant buying expensive advertising – something that is much easier for big organisations.
Incidentally, during the recent US election, as of late October, Hillary Clinton spent US$141.7 million on advertising; Donald Trump, on the other hand, spent just US$58.8 million.
What Chloe’s campaign demonstrates is that social media evens out the odds – ‘David really can challenge Goliath.’