(Note: this piece does not support or defend any candidate)

It’s time. It’s voting day on November 8th, 2016 and the world is holding its breath. Never before have the stakes felt quite so high, or the choices seemed so polarizing. Today more employers will give employees full days of paid time off to go and vote than any election on record. Tonight the only sport that will air “prime time’ is our own electoral process (sorry).  And sadly, it has become a spectator sport. It’s exciting, even terrifying for some.

There are three primary narratives underlying every ad, speech and debate. They are: integrity, authenticity, and a focus on real issues (or lack thereof).

Bernie Sanders and Gary Johnson, two names far less known that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, made a major dent in this election.  They did so by clinging tightly to integrity but maintained clear communication and authenticity as equally high values throughout their campaigns.  

Bernie Sanders is still on everyone’s lips and minds. He is referenced constantly by other candidates even when he is no longer running. Gary Johnson is poised to upset the applecart in just about every state, with enough momentum in a small handful of states to impact the entire electoral vote...and potentially reshape future elections. Why? Both candidates were clear in what they stand for, and they were authentic and vulnerable.  They shared a skill set in social media and they used those channels effectively, to share what they were actually about.

Johnson and Sanders, two underdogs, are now household names. Think about that. If you’re a big brand, think about how simple it could be for a smaller, scrappier, more relatable brand to upset your applecart. While you’re having conference calls about the “power being in the hands of the consumers,” please also take note that, to a large extent, it’s also in the hands of disruptive competition -- competitors that really get content and social media and are capable of taking market share from your business.

The brands that maintain steady streams of authentic and relevant content are more likely to maintain and strengthen their relationship with consumers, helping them withstand potential intrusion from up-and-comers.  

Content and social media are becoming true equalizers. Never underestimate how fast a disruptor can gain momentum with them. That’s lesson one.  

Lesson two: Who you are and what you stand for truly matters. In this election, voters are casting their ballot for one candidate’s character, or against another candidate’s character.  This is true in this election and it’s true in supermarkets, retail stores and ecommerce sites.   

Younger generations cast their ballot--or their wallet--in favor of brands they understand on a human level and can relate to. We choose the people and brands that “get us.” We celebrate people and brands that give back.

So get out and vote.  Celebrate, drink, dance, or cry, scream and click on that baited headline about becoming a Canadian citizen.  As a nation, it is hard to say what we will take away from the campaigns. As content marketers, the learnings are far more clear.

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