Face-to-Face vs Digital Campaigning - SWOT analysis

Traditional methods of campaigning are well-established ways to contact, survey and win over electors. However, with more and more people using Social Media and spending increasing amounts of time online, digital campaigning is looking more like the future of electioneering.

Face-to-Face Campaigning

Strengths

  • By far the most personal way to campaign. This method allows you to have a genuine personal interaction with electors and put a human face to a cause, party or politician.
  • It makes your cause hard to ignore as it can be hard to ignore someone in person. It is also more daunting to be rude to someone in person. 
  • It is the best way to convey passion for a cause, party or politician. Passion and enthusiasm can be infectious.
  • It makes the people you are speaking to feel listened to. Additionally, people are far more likely to remember an face-to-face interaction, that one that happened online. 

Weaknesses

  • It can be weather-dependent. If you have a volunteer force, volunteers are less likely to show up in poor weather. 
  • If you are using paid canvassers, they can be less genuine and be quite expensive. Even the smallest electoral unit can require large teams to canvass quickly.
  • It can be a slow process with a small team. Even small electoral units can take weeks to canvass.
  • It can be dangerous, especially in high crime areas. Additionally, canvassers and campaigners can be subjected to verbal abuse.
  • In areas with poor transportation links, it can be difficult to get campaigners to where they need to be.
  • Language barriers can be challenging to overcome. Unless the canvasser or campaigner is proficient in every foreign language spoken in the area, chances are there will be some people who they will be unable to talk to.

Opportunities

  • Face-to-face campaigning provides an opportunity for electors to raise issues with their representative. It can be a great opportunity for campaigners to find out what problems the electors are experiencing. 
  • It allows campaigners to, relatively accurately, gauge the public mood. 
  • It allows canvassers and campaigners to ask questions they really want to ask. The flexibility of in-person conversations permits canvassers to adjust pre-determined questions to fit the situation.

Threats

  • Covid-19 has proved that face-to-face campaigning can be a risk for disease and infection. 
  • Due to GDPR regulations, the way collected personal data is stored needs to be a consideration. 

Digital Campaigning

Strengths

  • It is faster than regular canvassing as it allows the campaigner to reach many people simultaneously.
  • It can be cheaper since it requires less man-hours.
  • It allows the campaigner to communicate with the younger generation who can be more difficult to reach through face-to-face campaigning. 
  • It makes the campaign message more accessible; people who are visually-impared and hearing-impared are more likely to be able to understand a digital campaigning message. 
  • It allows for a large amount of creativity. Digital campaigning can take many forms, including, but not limited to: Social Media adverts, videos, pictures, graphics, memes, and posts on fora.
  • It allows you to build an ‘army’ of people who can support and defend your message online. 

Weaknesses

  • It requires some level of technological aptitude, especially for more creative campaigning such as graphic creation and videos. 
  • Not everyone is online. Some people do not use the internet or social networks, particularly the elderly. It can also mean that people who are socio-economically disadvantaged will be harder to access. 
  • This method can be impersonal. It doesn’t put a human face to the cause or candidate, making it more difficult for people to relate to.

Opportunities

  • It requires no paper, thereby promoting environmental benefits.
  • It allows you to communicate with people without them knowing you are doing it. Digital political adverts can influence voters without the voters having to opt to see them.

Threats

  • Some social networks are no longer allowing political adverts. 
  • Collecting data from social networks without the individuals’ consents is illegal in some countries.
  • In countries where large amounts of people do not have access to the internet or a device that can access the internet, this method can be ineffective.