As the second round of Democratic primary debates gets under way, 20 candidates desperate to stand out from one another once again stand up together in front of the American people. In the preparation-rush to be set up for success in the debates and beyond, candidates have fretted about everything from the lack of scheduling randomization to height differences – at the time, Governor Hickenlooper (6’2”) quipped that he might “might try to find some stiletto heels” to further attempt to stand out.
These squabbles are all reflections of the current packed field. The debates are “by far the most exposure [candidates] have gotten yet”, and campaigns want to make sure that the allotted time in the spotlight is most effectively utilized to gain campaign momentum as the field begins to whittle down. Raw candidate debate performances are undoubtedly subjective; with no narrative yet agreed upon, viewers focus most of their attention on what issues or candidates they care most about. As Politico recently reported, however, as the narrative post-debate begins to be shaped, candidates are judged on the available objective metrics: both “how often Facebook users share[d] clips of their performances,” as well as “how many volunteers held watch parties for them.” Ultimately, then, garnering momentum off the debates requires – in no small part – success on these two metrics.
Going forward, successful campaigns will need to contend with another looming challenge. Recollections of viral moments are ephemeral, and with other campaigns constantly trying to poach all but the most hard-core supporters, it is vitally important to retain and excite existing volunteers while attracting new ones in meaningful, long-lasting ways.
Fortunately, these daunting short-and-long-term tasks are made easier by implementing Team, a tool for building digital communities developed by The Tuesday Company. Team is a tool for the organizer who wants to build a community of active, passionate supporters. It is a resource for the supporter who wants to take meaningful actions and have conversations with their friends about the causes and candidates they care about. It enables rapid response on social media to share the amazing stories of candidates and supporters. Simply, it’s perfect for engaging and retaining supporters while simultaneously allowing those supporters to speak organically recruit their friends – perfect for tackling both the short- and long-term needs of nascent presidential campaigns.
In preparation for the last debate, a leading Presidential campaign utilized Team in just this way, taking full advantage of Team’s seamless integration with Facebook by organizing supporter watch parties in states with on-the-ground organizers and remotely. Online organizing connects geographically divided supporters while reinforcing bonds between organizers and supporters. Whether the volunteer lives in state where the campaign has invested heavily – or one where it has not yet built up staff – the volunteer is able to take real action in their personal network. In this case, volunteers and supporters interacting with Facebook watch party posts automatically pushed these interactions out to in-network friends, potentially attracting these friends to sign up – and boosting campaign watch party visibility in the process, no ad dollars required.
Team can be used to engage supporters in rapid response and information dissemination in much the same way, amplifying key viral moments that garner organic Facebook shares from friends while correcting misleading statements from other candidates in real-time. During the first presidential debate, the aforementioned campaign used Team’s rapid-response capabilities to serve relevant, in-the-moment policy detail tasks and key viral for supporters to disseminate to their social networks in real-time.
Post-debates – and in the longer term – Team enables organic, one-on-one conversations between supporters and friends that engage with Facebook posts such as debate watch parties, allowing volunteers introduce and pitch the candidate to their communities. The power of this “friend-to-friend outreach”, also known as relational organizing, has been shown to be up to 20 times as effective as traditional outreach means, demonstrating its importance for targeting and mobilizing potential supporters in harder-to-reach communities across the United States.
All this means that, in the primaries and beyond, Team enables supporters to stand up and campaigns to stand out meaningfully and long-lastingly – no stilettos required.