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October 10, 2020

How virtual election campaigns use Facebook and social media to target voters

Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2020. 11:32 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: Election season is here in the United States and Belize. Presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have increased their online presence and so have political candidates in Belize.

With most of the world going virtual, the PUP hosted its virtual policy launches and the UDP hosted its Party Leader endorsement virtually.

Both major political parties in Belize have also pumped up social media advertisements with the goal to reach as many registered voters as they can.

Contributing Editor to Politico Magazine, Joanna Weiss shared that President Trump has been effective in reaching targeted audiences by making much use of social media platforms.

Trump ultimately bypassed traditional media and uses social media to reach people.

Most politicians and political campaigns use social media to present a positive view of their campaign and to underscore their policy platforms.

According to Weiss, research showed that the Trump campaign had spent more money from their budget on digital advertisements than traditional media.

At this time, the biggest benefit of Facebook is the ability to target audience and since Facebook has data on the demographics due to the things, we like and share daily, politicians are able to promote and target campaigns for a specific audience.

Politicians can also use Facebook and online media outlets such as Breaking Belize News to target advertisements and know the demographic that the ad is reaching and how well the engagements of the ads are.

However, the virality of misinformation and disinformation remains prevalent, especially during this time. Some political campaigns engage in fake photos, fake videos and the sharing of false information in an attempt to persuade voters.

“Under increasing pressure, the social media platforms have been trying to put some of their own restrictions in place. About a year ago, Twitter announced that it would ban all political advertisements leading up to the 2020 elections,” Weiss shared.

Fortunately, the US Fact Check organizations continue to publish Fact check information being shared by political campaigns.

Recently, Facebook announced that one week before the US elections, it will not accept any more political ads.

Sharing a well-prepared advertisement on social media is an effective way to share a message and to provoke emotion.

Physorg reports that in 2016, the Donald Trump campaign spent $44 million on Facebook advertisements while Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent $28 million.

Research showed that Trump campaign had specifically targeted their audience for the advertisements which made them successful in sending their message.

As the campaigns intensify, political campaigns and politicians will increase their online presence leading up to the elections. 


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