Designing the campaign “Know who you are voting for” we were concerned with the possible outcomes of EU elections in Slovakia. An array of candidates presented themselves for the vote, many of whom known for their homophobic, xenophobic, racist, mysogynist and other utterly inacceptable attitudes; 6 out of incumbent MEPs presented themselves again, some of whom with poor voting record. We collected some of the worst statements, actions and voting records of the potentially successful candidates, including neonazis. The stakes were high – the turnout in the previous elections was 13%.
Beware, who runs!
We created 20 infographics and 4 videos depicting the quote, the face and the name of the candidate, as well as a call to mobilize and go vote on 25th of May. The hashtag of the action was “pozorktokandiduje” , translated as “Beware, who runs!” , and in a time span before the elections we were continuosly posting these on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (with some paid advertisement on Facebook after the organic traffic went weak). An overall album here!
We reached almost a million people in Slovakia (an approximation, as counting together the reach of all posts is more than a million, some part must have been returns and repeats). The most succesfull by large margin was Facebook, just the launch of the campaing reached more than 600.000 people (95% of them in Slovakia). Altogether 800.000 people were reached through Facebook, followed by Instagram (almost 100.000 people) and YouTube (30.000). Considering that just a little bit more than a million people took part in the elections (23% of the eligible voters) we consider the campaign as a huge success when it come to reach.
Qualitatively speaking the campaign was successful; it generated substantial traffic, a reaction from three highly positioned candidates, negative mentions in fake news (so called „alternative media“) and many positive mentions from users online; users consistently reshared the coming content and by using our infographics mobilized others on their own account. Some users explicitly thanked us for bringing such important information and doing such a good work. An extensive conflictual debate unfolded under a particular meme from a neonazi, generating a lenghty debate among voters of neonazis and those who oppose them; we see it as a rare occasion of such platform.
Don’t be afraid of a moderated conflict /including being targeted by hate speech
The learn effect might be relevant for Slovak environment only, but we must conclude that in our circumstances, one should not be afraid of “conflictual”content, of naming and shaming. From previous experiences and also from other campaigns we conclude that only positive messaging is not sufficient and rarely generates attention; altough we can say it is unfortunate, a conflicting messaging generates a necessary debate and resonates among audience with much more success. Our key take away is precisely this, not to be afraid of a moderated conflict /including being targeted by hate speech, in order to fully uncover the seemingly decent and popular candidates for what they really are, claim and want to achieve politically.