Politicos Use Facebook To Learn 'What Zurich Needs'

Politics and Facebook can be a dicey mix sometimes, but when they are united in a common goal, such as improving life in a city, the results can be positive.

Politics and Facebook can be a dicey mix sometimes, but when they are united in a common goal, such as improving life in a city, the results can be positive.

Such was the case with What Zurich Needs, a campaign created by Swiss agency Walker on behalf of Switzerland’s Social Democratic party. What Zurich Needs invited Facebook users to contribute their ideas on how to improve life in the country’s capital city.

How successful was it? All four of the party’s candidates featured in the campaign won their respective elections, and the city is moving toward a free municipal wireless network and cheaper public transportation.

Facebook Studio spoke with Walker founder and creative director Pius Walker about What Zurich Needs. Here are the highlights:

The plan was to engage young people and show them that the Social Democrats are willing to take their issues into the political arena for them. The aim was to get people involved in politics and to make the campaign an extension of the public’s voice. Facebook was the perfect platform for us.

This campaign turned the political process upside-down by making the people the initiators of ideas. Through a democratic voting system on the Facebook page, people could post their own ideas and watch them gain support. Then the candidates took up the most popular issues and made them part of their political platforms. This campaign actually listened to people, rather than pushing a message to them. It’s a very simple idea, actually, and a very positive one because of the direct engagement that it encourages.

It’s a feat we never could have accomplished through other types of media. This campaign would not have been possible without Facebook. Like the Facebook marketing platform itself, our campaign hinges on the community being a part of the campaign creation, rather than just the consumption. We achieved this by having people post their original ideas; each subsequent comment or fan then gave those ideas more life and momentum.

Readers: Do you think a campaign similar to What Zurich Needs would work in the United States?