Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why Do Campaigns Forget the “Social” in Social Media?

 

political story tellingWho thinks these presidential political campaigns are absolutely crushing it on social media? I will tell you the campaign that is, as soon as I find one.

When it comes to data, campaigns get it. Campaigns can use the data available and figure out who their voters should be, target them with their message via direct mail and turn them out to vote on election day. They know how to market. So why is it that they fail on the social side?

Data geeks! In general, data geeks run the campaign universe today. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but what campaigns are missing is the personal side of the story. There is still a lot of value in being able to use data to identify who the target audience is, send them the correct direct mail piece, and turn them out to the polls. What is missing is the ability to connect with those swing voters on a personal level and convert them from a swing voter to a raving fan who likes the person because they feel they have developed a relationship with him or her.

Over the last 20 years, I have been involved in two primary careers, politics and real estate. There is a lot that the a political campaign can learn from a successful real estate agent who develops a relationship over time with their clients. That relationship starts out as professional but develops into a personal relationship. Once that happens, the real value of that customer (voter) kicks in.

Can we all agree that social media is huge right now? Can we all agree that the iPhone has replaced the TV set as the primary source of news and information these days? When you wake up, what do you do? Most people, 8-in-10 adults in fact, say that they grab their phone and check Facebook. Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or whatever their social platform of choice is. Why do we do this? Because we want to know what is going on. If this is true for 8-in-10 adults, can you imagine what that number is for those who are politically engaged?

According to surveys, the number is even larger on the other end. Nine-in-10 American adults fall asleep with their phones. We so consumed, some would say addicted, to our phones because we learn in seconds if there has been any breaking news since we last put down our phone six hours earlier and fell asleep 45 seconds after that.

If we look at today’s political landscape we will see that campaigns are really good at sending out Tweets about their talking points. They do that very well. What they fail to do is tell stories and have real interaction with those swing voters who will vote for the person they know, like, and trust. When campaigns think about social media, all they really hear is media. I’m not sure if the failure here is from the campaign structure management team, which wants to strictly control every single word that goes out, or if the social team fails to recognize opportunities. Either way, this is a disconnect that campaigns can easily rectify.

Anyone can post to the social platform of their choice. I follow the campaigns every day online. Some post often to Twitter. Others Facebook. Some Snapchat or Instagram. My five-year-old can post to all those platforms. But there is a huge difference between posting to a platform and actually engaging your audience on that platform.

Over the next four weeks, I’m going to take a look at how the Presidential campaigns are using Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I’ll let you know where they are hitting it out of the park and where they are just standing at home base watching the ball go right down the middle of the plate.


Read the second post in my social media series here.

There are 12 comments.

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  1. Lazy_Millennial Member

    Data geek here. We’re great at crunching numbers and getting very specific messages to very specific people. We’re terrible at actually determining what the message should contain, unless we’re just testing a bunch of different stuff to see what sticks.

    Stereotypically, we’re terrible at connecting with people generally.

    Also, you should make some $$ consulting for campaigns. Get that establishment cash.

    • #1
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:26 PM PST
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  2. Dean Ouellette Inactive
    Dean Ouellette

    Lazy… I love data geeks, and they are needed. I just know there are areas we can go beyond that to take candidates to the next level!

    • #2
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:28 PM PST
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  3. Lazy_Millennial Member

    I’m hoping the Koch’s have been working on this in their i360 project, and will just run the social-media and get-out-the-vote effort for whoever the nominee ends up being. My fear is that even this won’t be enough, given the Dem’s massive headstart in this area.

    • #3
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:32 PM PST
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  4. Dean Ouellette Inactive
    Dean Ouellette

    In the past, the Dems did a great job. This year neither Hillary nor The Bern is doing that great. This could be the year to make inroads. At least on the campaign level.

    • #4
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:38 PM PST
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  5. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DeanOuellette: Can we all agree that social media is huge right now? Can we all agree that the iPhone has replaced the TV set as the primary source of news and information these days? When you wake up, what do you do? Most people, 8-in-10 adults in fact, say that they grab their phone and check Facebook. Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or whatever their social platform of choice is. Why do we do this? Because we want to know what is going on. If this is true for 8-in-10 adults, can you imagine what that number is for those who are politically engaged?

    I wake up, grab my BBizzle, and check Facebook and Twitter for links to news stories provided by newspapers, broadcast news outlets, and online news blogs. (Also, cat videos.)

    I don’t check Facebook and Twitter for posts by politicians.

    The only people who follow politicians’ own feeds are a) already-committed supporters, b) already-committed enemies, c) journalists looking for a gaffe to promote.

    Social media doesn’t really work all that well for bypassing the media to get to undecided voters directly. Getting the attention of undecided voters online requires the assistance of third-party media, retweeting, reposting, and reporting on the politician’s messages.

    “Going viral” is more about the quality of your followers, rather than the quality of your message. Getting committed supporters to share your stuff to other committed supporters is easy, but you already had their votes.

    IMHO.

    • #5
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:43 PM PST
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  6. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This was why Obama’s social media strategy worked so well. He didn’t use social media so much to push a message to undecided voters online. Instead, he used social media to recruit already-supportive volunteers and to organize/schedule those volunteers to go out and push his message IRL.

    It feels like Trump does something similar. His message is spread by the media outlets, and his own social media is used to rally his supporters IRL.

    Social media cannot replace boots on the ground or bypass “traditional” media. I say the best ways to get to undecided voters directly is still door-to-door and direct-mail, and to use those channels to get them to follow you online.

    Sadly, one key to getting boots on the ground to do real grunt work for you is that your target audience needs a surplus of free time combined with a lot of energy. e.g. students, the unemployed, part-time workers, and union workers. Also, retirees, but they tend to have less energy and mobility than the others.

    Conservatives’ natural constituency, families with full-time jobs, are less likely to have the time for that sorta thing.

    IMHO.

    • #6
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:48 PM PST
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  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dean. Thanks for engaging on this platform. I 100% agree.

    • #7
    • February 23, 2016, at 1:55 PM PST
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  8. Dean Ouellette Inactive
    Dean Ouellette

    Misthiocracy, bingo! He made a personal connection. He got people to at least believe that they knew him and with that they became more invested in him. Developed that personal relationship. There is more opportunity now than ever for that. It is what other industries do constantly that the political community is completely failing on. Social media is a tool. I am a 100% grassroots guy. I always was. This is one more tool to bring the grassroots closer into the campaign and make that bond stronger.

    • #8
    • February 23, 2016, at 2:03 PM PST
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  9. Grosseteste Member

    DeanOuellette: Over the next four weeks, I’m going to take a look at how the Presidential campaigns are using Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I’ll let you know where they are hitting it out of the park and where they are just standing at home base watching the ball go right down the middle of the plate.

    Looking forward to it. One bit of social media outreach that I wasn’t expecting was Rand Paul’s reddit AMA, which I thought was great and seemed like an example of the kind of thing you’re advocating here.

    • #9
    • February 23, 2016, at 2:08 PM PST
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  10. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DeanOuellette:Misthiocracy, bingo! He made a personal connection. He got people to at least believe that they knew him and with that they became more invested in him. Developed that personal relationship. There is more opportunity now than ever for that. It is what other industries do constantly that the political community is completely failing on. Social media is a tool. I am a 100% grassroots guy. I always was. This is one more tool to bring the grassroots closer into the campaign and make that bond stronger.

    The problem I see is that if a politician isn’t any good at connecting and recruiting real people offline then the campaign won’t be able to use social media to plug that gap. They need to start out as “grassroots kinda folk” first, and then they can transfer that experience to the online realm.

    Barack Obama was already a community organizer. Donald Trump is already a salesman. Bernie Sanders was always a retail-level politician.

    More introverted politicians, like various senators still in the running, aren’t gonna suddenly make connections online if they aren’t already inclined to make them IRL. Social media merely allows one to make more of the sort of connections one is already inclined to make IRL.

    Corporations that do social media best tend to already be good at customer service. The popular kids with the most Facebook friends tend to already be popular IRL. Facebook didn’t make them popular.

    Politics is no different.

    • #10
    • February 23, 2016, at 2:22 PM PST
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  11. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Here’s a good article by Sasha Issenberg about Sanders’ online efforts, which elaborates on these ideas.

    It’s interesting because, while it supports the idea that social media is used to mobilize supporters rather than to persuade undecideds, it compares how the strategies and tactics have evolved over time from Howard Dean, to Barack Obama, to now Bernie Sanders.

    The article talks about how Howard Dean’s campaign was really good at using social media to gather supporters together, but then it failed to give them anything to do.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/features/2016-02-24/behind-bernie-sanders-revolution-lies-a-meticulously-engineered-grassroots-network

    • #11
    • February 25, 2016, at 10:51 AM PST
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  12. Dean Ouellette Inactive
    Dean Ouellette

    Thanks, going to check it out

    • #12
    • February 26, 2016, at 6:37 PM PST
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