The Content Imperative
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Tom Chapman
Business Development Director

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Image source: David Holt

6 visual content marketing lessons from #GE2015

| 13 May 2015

I'm going to present you with five companies. By law, a sizeable chunk of your income must be invested in one. The depths of your pockets are thereby directly tied to the performance of the chosen company. Your choice will only be granted if the company can rally enough other investors to fill its boots.

While love makes the world go round, money makes it comfortable. Without it we'd struggle to have a roof over our head, clothes on our back or food in our tummies. Still, a third of the population this year chose not to have a say in their investment.

The Investment Thesis

The companies in question are The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, UKIP and the SNP. Just as you wouldn't shop blindfolded, you wouldn't dish out your dosh without research, and it's up to the company to make that knowledge gathering easy. To comfortably invest you need to know its values, its product or service, its track-record, its vision, its leaders and ultimately, what it can do for you.

Now when you think of it like that, why did 34 percent of the population choose not to have a say in their investment this year?

The Voter Journey

Political parties are companies, their leaders are the brand.

Nicola Sturgeon's SNP didn't scoop Scotland by luck. Labour didn't tumble by chance. Often perceived as a playground club of greying men talking Chinese, politics in itself is a riddle. So what did and what can politicians do with visual content to make the riddles rhyme? Here are six lessons.

Lesson 1: Putting the Customer First

Let's kick-off with a comparison. Miliband's Twitter feed (500K followers to Cameron's 1.03m) is rife with messages beginning "I'm going to," or "I'm asking you to," juxtaposed with brand Cameron bashing. By contrast, Sturgeon's is littered with selfies, photos, messages of thanks and re-tweets sure to flatter the egos of her fans. Similarly, ex-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg posted a video, "I Clegg Your Pardon," in which he responded to humorous tweets.

Takeaway: Put your customer and their needs at the core of your campaign.

Lesson 2: User (Voter) Generated Content

Let your fans spread the word by generating content that triggers a response. The #SNPBecause campaign asked voters to share the rationale behind their choice. The party posted Facebook photos of supporters holding boards showing their reason for voting. Labour asked followers: "Are you voting Labour Thursday? Tell us why". It posted an infographic of a quote from a nurse. Leverage social media to get your customers talking.

Takeaway: Your fans are your biggest advocates, so use them to create your content.

Lesson 3: Perception Vs Product Pushing

A brand should market its values as much as its products. In swoops the pink-jacketed Sturgeon all smiles, waves and hugs. The SNP's Facebook page is crawling with photos and videos of the leader embracing voters, cuddling babies and sweetly partaking in selfies. She's forging an emotional connection with fans, reeling them into the SNP Club.  Adding photos to tweets can boost retweets as much as 35%.  Additionally, social media means news travel fast, so use this data to respond quickly to important events and show you care.

Takeaway: Whether you're selling policies or pineapples, take a step-back from product pushing to inspire customers and create a warm fuzzy feeling around your brand.

Lesson 4: Interact and Entertain

People are pummelled with swathes of content every day, so our minds are often jaded and our attention spans short. Wake your customers up with interactive infographics such as quizzes and competitions. The Lib Dem's offered voters the chance to win dinner with Hugh Grant or John Cleese. They shared a quiz, "What's Your Tory Score?". Labour runs a quiz generating personalized manifestos.

Takeaway: We live in a time-starved world so grab customers' attention through interaction and entertainment.

Lesson 5: Telling a Tale

How many voters diligently trawl through party manifestos before heading to the polls? I'd assume too few. The ins and outs of policy are hard to digest, so it's up to the parties to feed it to voters in bite-size chunks. They'd do well to build a story around these chunks and deliver it to people across multiple channels. UKIP attempted this with its video: "What Christmas looks like under the European Union".  Parties should break-down their manifesto better, to tell us a tale of life under their governance.

Takeaway: Storytelling is powerful so build a vision around your brand and feed it to customers in digestible morsels.

Lesson 6: Share and Share Alike

Shareable content is a sure-fire way to get tongues wagging, so tease you staunch supporters with punchy infographics. Labour posted images with quotes: "I'm voting Labour to stop the Tory privatisation of the NHS. Share if you are too." Messages should be succinct and differentiate you from competitors. The Lib Dems "I've Voted Lib Dem for a strong economy and fairer society" says nothing. Isn't that what all parties promise?

Takeaway:  Shareable content can broaden your reach, but make it unique, not fluffy.