Streaming apps like Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope promise to turn each of us into a live broadcaster, and the presidential campaigns were quick to jump on these new tools as a way to bring their rallies and launch announcements to an online audience.
But will the real beneficiaries of video-streaming apps be opposition researchers? Video of candidate gaffes and in-the-moment mistakes shared online have been a feature of campaigns since 2006's Macaca moment. Campaign professionals shudder when they remember Sen. George Allen's (R) slur against a Jim Webb staffer that year, which blasted across YouTube, helping to define his candidacy and sink it.
Live-streaming apps promise more of the same, since they'll allow citizens and staffers to put every campaign event onto a national stage. With smartphones in most of our hands, candidates will have no idea whether or not they're being broadcast to the world.
Watch for oppo teams to keep an eye on Periscope and Meerkat for juicy mistakes from the other side, and for staff to keep an eye on their own candidates, out of self-preservation.
Personalization's 2016 Potential
Amazon.com knows me well, likewise Washingtonpost.com. How well do they know me? Well enough to tailor content to me based on where I live, what I've bought and what I've read in the past. In 2016, will campaigns begin to catch up?
NationBuilder's Mike Moschella brought this idea up at a discussion in D.C. in June, when he talked about how he thought Hillary Clinton's website ought to behave versus how it behaves now. He noted, for example, how he’d already signed up for the campaign's email list but is still presented with a big “join" form when he lands on her page. In his eyes, this is a missed opportunity: the campaign knows he's a supporter, and it could use that real estate to promote a donation or volunteer ask.
Campaigns that can integrate their email, grassroots and website data can reap the benefit in other ways, for instance highlighting issues on the website related to emails that a supporter has opened or acted on. Online advocacy is a perpetual game of inches, with campaigns working to squeeze every bit of time and money they can out of supporters.
Data-driven personalization is one way they can boost response and action rates at a time when even a few percentage points in online performance might equal cash or votes.
Republicans Take To Snapchat
Ephemeral social media app Snapchat might not seem like an obvious tool for campaigns, since its posts only last for a short period of time (in the popular mind, it's a tool for teenagers to send each other risque pictures).
But Republican presidential candidates are hopping onto the service in a big way, largely because its audience is so heavily composed of those young voters so hard to reach via traditional channels like direct mail and local TV ads. Rand Paul was an early adopter, but other campaigns now have their own Snapchat channels, too. In Scott Walker's case, his college-age sons run his account.
Plus, as we mentioned recently, Snapchat's promoting itself as a political advertising channel, particularly around its long-form curated news packages. Both Walker's and John Kasich's video ads appeared on Snapchat in July, and we can expect other candidates to follow their lead.
Will Snapchat outreach equal votes, though, or just disappear from memory? That’s going to require a longer exposure.
Colin Delany is founder and editor of the award-winning Epolitics.com and a 15-year veteran of online politics.