Driving Political Engagement through Mobile Storytelling

PartyParty
PartyParty
Published in
5 min readMar 29, 2023

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Interactive, Immersive, and Experiential

If you’re a digital native, the stats and trends from the recent Digital 2023 by We are Social would have given you a clue into how profoundly our digital behaviour has recently transformed. GenZ, the true digital natives, have a markedly different relationship with social media compared to their older counterparts, the Millennials, GenX, and Baby Boomers. One clear example is the rise in the use of social media platforms as search engines.

At political organisations, when asked “who’s our target audience?” — we often say EVERYONE! This is where it goes south. And practically speaking, it’s impossible to craft a message that would fit a social media format and also appeal to every demographic group.

So then, what’s the solution? How do we maximise engagement with our audience?

Setting the Objectives

The first rule in the game of driving engagement on social media is knowing what we want to achieve with our interventions. As political communicators, we need to quickly ascertain which metric is going to be the measuring yardstick of our hard work. The different engagement metrics across the social spectrum are: Reach, Reactions, Comments/Replies, Votes, Video Views, Shares, Saves, Downloads or emails with feedback and thoughts (!). It also depends on which stage of the communication practice we are at. Tip: If you’re just beginning to communicate your mission, your success metric of engagement might be to see an increase in your Reach. But if you’re at an advanced level, your engagement metric could be Shares or Saves — as you have more loyalists within your followers at this stage.

The Three Tenets of Mobile Storytelling

So, what differentiates traditional communication from its most evolved version — mobile storytelling? Scale, quality, reciprocity, reactiveness, democratisation, realism, openness, low-cost barrier, reach, exposure, impact, power, — this is an endless list of qualities of digital communication. Let’s take a deeper look at how to think strategically about engagement on social.

Interactive

That there is a fully-developed feature to talk to your audience and a chance for your audience to give you real-time feedback has been the most underutilised development of modern marketing, especially in our part of the world (politics).

The “post-and-pray” formula will not get you far — not anymore in 2023. If your content is not provoking emotions, it’s time to introspect your strategy. Tip: Maybe an idea could be to post more high-quality content which is both relatable and shareable as opposed to simply posting anything (birthday cakes, internal meeting updates, welcoming guests at our offices, etc.). It’s important to question why would anyone be excited to receive such updates on their timeline.

Algorithms are not helping us either, agreed, but to blindly announce it as the only cause of your declining reach and engagement is unfair. Tip: Keep experimenting with different formats for different stories. Remember, until recently the most-liked Instagram post was a picture of an egg!

Tip: One way to increase reach and engagement organically is to be social on social. What it means is: actively sharing your views, thoughts, ideas, opinions, and values on the accounts you follow through comments and replies. The aim is to add to the already ongoing conversation meaningfully. This helps you get discovered by like-minded individuals and organisations. Simply replying with a clap emoji or the rocket emoji or the fire emoji will not suffice.

Immersive

It’s about crafting a narrative and an engaging story out of the message you want to share. One way to address this is to ask: what’s the most creative way to share this message with our audience or the other way around: is this the most creative way to share this message?

If your audience is immersed in what you are telling them, meaning that they are undistracted, deeply interested, and hungry to fill in the knowledge gap that only you can fulfill, then your story is immersive.

Immersive storytelling is also often confused with deploying cutting-edge technology to generate a sense of presence for the user, but that’s at the far end of our communications intervention spectrum. Many writers have proved that something as basic as words can too create a solid sense of reality. To quote Piyush Pandey, CCO Worldwide, Ogilvy:

“If the story is not great or if the story is not human, no technology will save you. Not today. Not any time in the future.”

Tip: Our goal should be to convert content to stories that people:

See to enjoy, Feel they’re there, and Want to connect with.

Experiential

A communication intervention that changes a person’s experience, such as augmented reality (AR), can have a huge impact. For example, looking around your surroundings with a climate change Instagram Face Filter on, which enables you to see what it would look like in a couple of years — drowning cities or deserted parks — it changes our perception of the fear of climate change. This is an experiential approach.

If you watch this video by BBC Media Action: Your phone is now a refugee’s phone [watch on a mobile], you’ll see what experiential communication looks like firsthand. At the onset of the refugee crisis, there were plenty of articles written, videos produced, and podcasts released, but we don’t remember any of them. So what’s the difference between those interventions and this piece of media? Both the format of the film and its message invites a user into an immersive and experiential storytelling experience. It’s a story that people:

See to enjoy (gain a perspective), Feel they’re there, and Want to connect with.

Bottom Line

If you can’t invest in authentic conversations, if you can’t invest in crafting powerful stories, and if you can’t invest in creating digital experiences, there’s no reason for your brand to be on social media. If your mere reason to exist on social is to broadcast your news and updates, then you probably are already or set to become irrelevant as a brand and as a mission eventually.

Go rethink your strategy today!

PS: The words digital, mobile, and social are used interchangeably in this article as digital is mostly mobile and mobile is mostly social. IYKYK.

Author: Vineeti Singh

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PartyParty
PartyParty

The source for in-depth reporting on political changemakers, political parties, and political trends across Europe.