Winning campaigns or raising money is difficult, but with the Internet, it’s a whole new playing field. On the bright side, the Internet allows doing more with less since you can raise without necessarily going door to door, or at least use data to improve your outreach. However, being Internet-savvy when it comes to earning support requires an understanding of web technologies, audiences, demographics, and marketing to be successful.
According to Darren Bolding, CTO of Cambridge Analytica and CTO of the RNC during the 2016 campaign, one of the ways the Trump campaign used tech to better reached voters was by using Facebook bots to interact back with people who were messaging the page. They were sure to include little bits of personality, which helped the bot go viral on Reddit and Facebook. For example, if someone messaged the bot about Harambe, the bot would give back an entertaining response about “getting to the bottom” of what happened.
We all know that Facebook is great for one-on-one discussions with friends, but Facebook is also quickly becoming a core communications platform in other ways; the platform has recently created a tool to more easily discover and contact your congressperson. Between Facebook and other tools, the ease of which people can now contact offices is overwhelming offices, but on the flipside, Facebook bots can be used to interact back, saving time and money on responding to constituents. It also allows congressional offices to collect big data on the concerns of their voters.
Needless to say, collecting data is also incredibly important for campaigning. There are many outlets you can pay for data (people, addresses, emails), but you should also be tracking visitors throughout your site to understand what is resonating with your audience. You can learn exactly how many times someone visits the site and what content they are accessing, which can help you design content around their needs and nudge people towards engagement and conversion.
So what advice did Darren have for campaigns?
- Use tools like Nationbuilder, Hubspot, and Salesforce to collect that data in order to better understand your audiences and discover patterns: people with X characteristic care about issue Y. Then you can start predicting whether someone cares about that issue and project that over larger groups of people.
- Build out tech infrastructure to meet your upcoming outreach plans. For example, when Clinton mentioned her website during the first democratic primary debate, the increase in traffic knocked the site offline. If you’re expected a big media publication or a big push, make sure you have enough bandwidth to handle that.