The Future of Politics and Social Networks

 

“The challenge is using geolocation for a more targeted effect.”

One of the things that was left quite clear after these most recent local elections was that knowing how leverage the power of social networks means capturing more votes.

Newspapers and TV used to be the top dogs in terms of social influence; the so-called fourth estate could completely change the political climate, but that is changing. The Internet has not only connected all of its users, but it has also provided ways to directly influence said users, and even more so, in a very personal and individual way. This has led to a new model of understanding just how to present oneself and what they want to sell or do.

Although the press and TV continue to be quite powerful, platforms like Facebook and Twitter can both sink one’s political image or launch them into stardom since both methods of social influence, digital and traditional, feed off of each other. However, we must understand the concept of virality and social influence as a double edged sword, especially with platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How to target the message?

Let’s call this new technique for social influence digital social influence (DSI) to be able to focus on the social influence achieved by these digital means. I believe the user profile is very different in regards to DSI than with traditional forms of social influence. DSI is faster, more agile, and above all, more volatile. Users are influenced by social media to be more active web consumers.

Current social networks have become so global that when you write something or intend for a message to go viral, you have almost no control over who it will reach. Being able to isolate the information you send to a specific group of people is quite complex because you are limiting the number of followers or the number of users that would help viralize the message. With current social networks, it would be quite difficult for a political party to create a specifically targeted campaign by controlling the message they wanted to transmit depending on where the audience was located.

How can one single message have an influential effect on Madrid’s Salamanca neighborhood while simultaneously having a different message for a working-class neighborhood in Huelva using digital media? This may be facilitated in politics since each town typically has its own representative from each party who can locally target the exact message they wish to transmit. Yet, without a doubt, there is a great challenge in using a digital system to deliver news and information in a much more localized way.

Localization is the future

Facebook and Twitter enable each political party to create pages representing each town or each representative in regards to the municipality they are trying to reach, but they cannot assure that the party’s followers or readers are from that specific area that they are trying to influence.

The ideal situation for a political party would be the ability to know the needs of each neighborhood and each district, the ability to send a message to each resident of each neighborhood with personalized proposals based on their own needs. The only way to be able to do something to this regard is by using smartphones and geolocating each user to know exactly which neighborhood they are located in.

Digital social influence is a complex topic that will continue to evolve with the new technologies and the new digital marketing techniques that come along with them. We have to accept the fact that more and more, digital social influence helps us to sell as a business, or to triumph as a leader. Personally, I believe that geolocation-based localization is the future of DSI.

An ambitious project

Being aware of that fact, our incubator is about to launch a pilot project that operates by geolocating news and information with the end goal of having a means of targeted social influence capable of functioning at the neighborhood level, by postal code or even by street, throughout the whole world. This will enable us to send localized information and news to any neighborhood in any city on the globe.

I’ve always believed that the information you find most interesting is that which happens near you, in your city, to your neighbors, about your job and your company. Mapping that information and geolocating the news allows us to better understand each neighborhood, and of course, gives us a direct, locally targeted channel through which to reach those residents. I am convinced that this project will evolve into an excellent platform for delivering any and all information that a town or residential area might be interested in and, in doing so, offer very valuable information to each user.

Our pilot program will take shape in Madrid and if we see positive results it will expand into the rest of Spain and Latin America. We aim to be the first Spanish-born social media network capable of reaching and having an impact in many countries throughout the world. It is an ambitious project, and a gradual process, since we must grow neighborhood by neighborhood, but one that we feel is both necessary and useful.