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The 2016 election cycle has been unlike any other one we've ever seen before in the United States.  One of the many reasons is the heavy reliance on social media among candidates, sitting Members and constituents when engaging in political discussion.  Chances are, the emergence of social media as a major platform in politics is not news to you or your communications team.   With that said, the numbers are quite striking when we look at the power of sharing, online credibility, and how Congressional staff view the effectiveness of social media.  Here are six statistics that illustrate the increasingly important presence of social media in politics.

1.  92% of voting age Americans have at least one social media account.

Social media use among Americans 65+ years of age has more than tripled since 2010.
 

2.  40% of voting age Americans share political content on a daily or weekly basis.

This is in comparison to 54% of voting age Americans who share any type of content on a daily/weekly basis. 
 

3.  57% of Americans trust their friends most for political information on social media.

Only 41% of social media users in America trust political information coming directly from a Member or candidate.
 

4.  36% of American social media users trust traditional news outlets for political information on social media.

18% of Americans say they distrust political news from traditional outlets.
 

5.  76% of Congressional staffers say social media makes a  positive impact in constituents' ability to have real, meaningful interactions with the Member.

What's more, 70% of Congressional staffers think social media has made Members more accountable to their constituents.
 

6.  72% of Congressional staffers believe social media allows their office to reach people they could not otherwise connect with.

This figure is especially interesting in an election year when first-time voters are expected to play a crucial role in races across the country.

 

If your office uses IQ, you already know that our CRM platform is the only solution on the Hill that integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr.  In fact, we're the only CRM on the Hill that integrates with any social media channels.  If you're using another CRM, you may not be capturing these crucial interactions.  Contact us to learn more about how IQ allows you to capture, track, analyze and respond to social media communications.

In 2015, a renewed emphasis on originality has put an end to "cookie cutter" websites and has made quality, creative web design much more than a luxury, but a necessity.  A functional, up-to-date website is a clear and obvious prerequisite for success on the Hill.  Constituents expect a basic level of website organization and usability that allows them to easily email a Member, read press releases, connect on social media, etc.  However, we believe in 2016, this expectation will go a step further.  Constituents will expect not only to be able to consume relevant information on a Member's website, but to be able connect and interact in a way that is unique and reflective of both the Member's personality and the constituency as a whole. 

Read on to learn about some of design trends of the future that our team of designers is ready to put into place on your website today.

 

Big Background, Small Movement, Even Smaller Header

In recent years, home pages adorned with big, full screen photos have become increasingly popular among consumer brands as well as the public sector.  As ISP bandwidths increase, browsers can handle these large images much more easily, allowing designers more creative freedom.  This style mimics traditional print advertising where a custom, high resolution image runs to the edge of the screen with dramatic, contrasting text indicating a call to action.  We predict this trend will continue into 2016 with two small variations:

1)  Traditional headers will be replaced by compact navigation panes that can expand and contract by clicking.

2)  Video/animated backgrounds featuring subtle movement will replace static background images.


Note the compacted navigation pane at the top left.  Click to see the subtle background movement.


 

Flat Design Continues to Evolve

The end of textured, gradient-heavy "web 2.0" design elements is certainly not breaking news to anyone with an eye for design.  In the last several years, "flat design" has become more in vogue thanks in part to iOS and Android's heavy use of flat elements in their mobile platforms.  Web designers love flat design because of its minimalist, classic characteristics and the amount of white space it allows.  This is why we believe, in 2016, flat design will move from primarily mobile platforms to desktop applications as well.  In fact, Google has already hinted towards this trend with their recently updated logo and their use of the term "material design", an updated interpretation of traditional flat design concepts.


Old "web 2.0" Facebook logo (left) and new "flat design" Facebook logo (right)


Micro Interactions

Whether we call them "micro experiences," "mini apps" or "micro interactions" these tiny moments of online activity are here to stay.  A few quick examples of what we're talking about:

  • Retweet on Twitter = micro interaction
  • Thumbs up/down on Pandora = micro interaction
  • Zooming in on a product on Amazon = micro interaction

Clearly, these types of engagement opportunities have been around since we could "like" something on Facebook.  But we believe in 2016, micro interactions will become a major focus web design rather than a slick side component.  The constituent of tomorrow will not be satisfied to simply consume information from a website--they will demand engagement and interaction with the site too.  Micro interactions allow the constituent to customize his/her experience by engaging with the site in small but meaningful ways, slightly altering the path of navigation as they continue to interact with the site.  Snap polls, interactive maps and easy web forms are just a few examples of micro interactions that our designers can build for your website to get you ahead of the curve.

LinkedIn uses micro interactions in several interesting ways.  The endorsement function allows users to quickly and easily interact with their network and customize their own experience while they use the site.

Contact us today to schedule your free web design consultation.  With no charge and no committment, our design team will meet at your convenience to share ideas for how we can help get your office's website ahead of these trends and ready to lead in 2016.

Unless you've been living in a very deep, very dark cave for the last few years, you're probably aware of the important role social media plays in today's political climate.  Interesting content,  a regular rhythm of posts and thoughtful, personalized interactions are just a few of the ways to generate productive engagement in your social communities.  However, when developing a social media strategy for a given period of time, the "who" and the "why" are considerations that are sometimes left on the back burner.  Recent studies by the Pew Research Center reveal some interesting results when we look at the demographics and motivations for connecting with government on social media.

 

WHO?
It's certainly not a shock to see Millennials at the top of the list with 90% of Americans aged 18-34 opting-in to political materials on social media.  More surprising are the figures for Generation X and the Baby Boomers.  With political opt-in numbers of 89% and 80% respectively, we learn that these two groups cannot be dismissed as afterthoughts when developing social strategies.

WHY?
Now that we know a little more about who is connecting with government offices, let's look at why they choose to engage on social media versus other sources.

  • Speed: 40% of registered voters prefer social media over traditional sources of political news simply because of the speed at which information becomes available.  Elected officials can post reactions to speeches, explanations of votes, etc. seconds after the event happens--far faster than traditional news sources can.
  • Reliability: 26% of voters believe politicians' various social media sites are more reliable for political news than traditional sources.
  • Personal Connection: Social media represents a unique opportunity to showcase elected officials' personalities and to share moments from their lives away from the office.  34% of voters say this ability to connect on a personal level is the top reason they prefer social media.