Inspiring volunteers is no easy task. Even the most passionate supporters sometimes balk at calls to action. Though door-knockers are important and phone-bankers are valuable, Democrats will need to engage new elements of their base who aren’t willing or able to get involved in those more traditional ways – or it will all be for naught.
Embracing social media platforms’ unique capabilities can help campaigns optimize their voter outreach. Campaigns should build robust profiles and post clear, persuasive content that delivers a candidate’s vision. Be strategic about how and when you post and collect actionable feedback on social engagement: every like and share can inform and enhance future outreach.
Here’s how campaigns embrace social media and reach more voters:
I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign as a field organizer in Michigan. Before the election, I was asked by more than a few Michigan voters about an ad running on their Facebook timelines: a South Park-like animation citing Clinton’s now infamous “super-predator” line from the 90s. Brad Parscale, Trump’s social media director,showed Bloomberg this ad in the days before November 8, adding that it was part of a broader effort of dark ads aimed at African American voters in Michigan and beyond. Our team wasn’t sure what to say ‒ we didn’t have a commensurate response to counteract these efforts online.
This was the “major voter suppression operations” a senior official for the Trump campaign described before the election, and it was part of the reason Trump won by just 12,000 votes in Michigan. The Trump campaign was releasing a flood of fake news, ads, and twitter bots online, but the Democrats failed to build a robust digital counterweight.
I would not have wanted Hillary’s team to confront bots and fake news with their own, and this is not the answer for the Democrats moving forward. Republicans have always focused their campaigns on advertisements over the airwaves, so it made sense for the new frontier of Republican campaigning to be attack ads online. For decades, Democrats have won elections by harnessing the power of their volunteers through door-to-door canvassing and grassroots movements. The time has come for Democrats to bring their strengths online.
Welcome to the Tuesday Company blog: 21st Century Field Organizing!
Maybe this world is new to you; maybe you manage a small campaign and are looking for an edge; maybe you ran a successful digital organizing campaign at a local level and are trying to figure out how to scale your work to a statewide election. (If so – congrats on the promotion!)
No matter where you are in this process, the Tuesday Company can help you improve your digital campaign infrastructure, so we can all help get the right people elected.