I am an avid YouTube user, visiting the site probably 10 times a day for everything from music to recipes to tutorials on how to fix a computer problem. With every video I watch lately comes the increasingly common 15-second commercial preceding it. As a consumer, I find it to be slightly annoying, though I appreciate the option to skip the ad after the first five seconds. As a marketer, I think this is genius! YouTube has over 1 billion unique user views each month, and with that kind of reach it is no surprise that many companies are using this tactic to promote their brand or product.
On Monday, to my surprise, I found out that the Liberal Party of Canada was interested in YouTube as well. Almost every time I searched a new video, an ad featuring Justin Trudeau would precede it. Monday’s efforts also included a promoted trend on Twitter, featuring the hashtag #realpriorities. My surprise was based on the areas I am used to seeing political ads – YouTube not being among them – but I suppose that I should have expected this more given the Liberal Party’s recent focus on social media marketing. There has been an increased uptake of social media marketing by this Party since the new leader was elected, and Trudeau has been an avid user of social media since before he won the leadership race.
The demographics of Twitter and YouTube and the demographics that make up Canadian elections, however, historically have not overlapped as much as the Liberal campaign team might like. This fact begs the question: what is the intended result of these ads? Are the Liberals hoping to sway people that already vote, or encourage young, infrequent voters to pay more attention to politics? President Barak Obama used social media as a campaign tactic very effectively in the 2012 presidential election, and it has been a tool of the very popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, as well. What do you think? Is social media marketing an effective campaign strategy? Do you think the campaign will reach the right audience?