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Strategise your career

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Digital strategists now have a new avenue to explore the amalgamation of politics and social media

The era of the Internet has given rise to many careers such as social media manager, web content developer, app designer and so on, that give youngsters creative ways of finding their passion and building it into a career. One such upcoming career option is that of a digital strategist, specifically for political parties.

“This career is a great amalgamation of political representation and digital platforms. It is positioned to bring fresh ideas and astuteness in political campaigns. As a new approach of conveying messages, it will not only benefit the concerned political party but will also add meaning to their objectives,” says Naresh Arora, Director of DesignBoxed, a political social media strategist behind Indian National Congress’s digital marketing and social media campaigns.

A digital strategist’s job is to plan and design strategies to run various online campaigns. “The responsibilities involve keeping track of the trends on social media, creating and curating content for the client, maintaining an active digital presence for the client and ideating different ways to attract and engage with the audience,” says Nikhil Kamath, Brand Architect, Human Circle, New Delhi.

For a political social media strategist in particular, the role would mean managing the digital facets of a political party’s campaign during an election and otherwise. A digital strategist takes care of the social presence of the political leaders, ideates the plan of actions for social media, brainstorms on on-ground activities and conducts surveys. He/she is responsible for assisting the politicians and political parties in developing campaigns for different social media platforms.

“The third stage — after planning and designing — is the ‘execution and distribution’ where advertisements and posts are created as a part of execution and then ends with promotion,” adds Arora.

Experience trumps

Nikki Hesford, Managing Director of Hesford Media, Blackpool, the U.K., believes that no specific qualifications are required for the role of a digital strategist, but gaining experience is essential. “Sitting a short online course will not teach you to be commercially minded or opportunistic; these are skills you need to possess already. There is also a mathematical element to digital marketing such as calculating Cost per Thousand (CPMs), Click through Rate (CTRs) and Cost per Acquisition (CPAs) against the product margin to ascertain the likely Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) you can achieve for your client.”

“I gained my experience using my own money in my own business marketing a fashion product, but those who don’t have a business may struggle to get that necessary experience. These people would be advised to obtain employment as a junior in an agency, watch more experienced people do their job and learn how they do it. Take on small campaigns and learn before moving on to bigger projects,” she adds.

However, for those who still want to get a certification can look online. “There are various online courses on digital marketing on platforms such as Coursera and edX. You can get a certification for digital marketing from Google which is free of cost, and needs to be renewed every year. There are various offline institutes as well who teach it as a part of their curriculum,” shares Kamath.

Having a graduate degree in political science, journalism, communication or public relations is useful as it will help in understanding the political realm.

One also needs to learn how the different social media tools can be used in a political setting. For example, “On Facebook if you are advertising for political purposes there are extra layers of checks and information that you need to provide (all ads must show you are funding the campaign, for example), and you have to seek approval from Facebook and agree to additional terms,” explains Hesford.

Campaigning for political parties is not as easy as it sounds. “In politics, it is also important to understand the legalities and procedures that may impact a campaign as there are now stringent rules on what you can and cannot say. Making misleading claims could have serious legal consequences,” she warns.

Before an election, the Election Commission circulates rules and regulations that need to be followed by the strategists and political parties. Post elections, the strategists have to work according to the guidelines and norms of social media and political parties.

“This career will give you exposure to different sectors because of the nature of the job. But it still needs acknowledgement and recognition to be able to draw more youngsters towards it,” Arora adds.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 9:11:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/strategise-your-career/article28805497.ece

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