The wall between voter and candidate continues to be knocked down by technology. Campaigns now have an array of options when it comes to streaming live video with the touch of a smartphone.
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat are the latest additions to the social media toolkits of campaigns and consultants. Periscope signed up one-million users through the app store in its first 10 days on the market. That’s part of the reason why Twitter paid $100 million for it earlier this year.
As a former broadcaster, I’m all-in for the power of the live event. Watching a candidate give a speech from the stump in Iowa on a five-inch smartphone screen while sitting in a coffee shop in D.C. is a game changer.
From early speeches in the already crowded Republican presidential field, to a live Q&A with Hillary Clinton captured on Periscope before TV cameras could send a signal up the bird (a little former broadcaster lingo), live streaming has already established a credible share of the market in the political social media landscape.
This isn’t a new idea, but the packaging and the method of delivery certainly are. The live-to-tape feel of digital video has been emerging in politics for years. Two years ago, I made the argument that Ted Cruz unofficially launched his presidential campaign with a real-time digital video. Fast forward two years and Jeb Bush rolled out the Right to Rise PAC on an Instagram video. That was all the way back in the pre-dawn of live streaming apps — five months ago.
Now, we see a barrage of streams from rallies, speeches and presidential campaign announcements. It’s not just the candidates, or more accurately the staffer holding the smartphone, who're leveraging these apps to share content in real time.
Journalists are also sending out the signal, although not always with the appreciation of the candidates. To wit, see Rand Paul and the abrupt ending of his interview with The Guardian on Periscope. What this means is that the Mitt Romney-esque 47-percent moments will be live this cycle. Campaigns have to account for that — even if it’s out of their control.
Still, Periscope and the other live-streaming apps haven’t yet risen to the level of Facebook. What makes Facebook a more effective tool is campaigns’ ability to overlay voter data and run ads directly in a voter’s Facebook feed to a specific targeted audience.
Aside from the ability to run a promoted tweet campaign to drive “tune-in” for a pending Periscope broadcast, the ability to target voters through native advertising is non-existent on live apps.
For now, these apps will remain a tactic to break news, share content and connect voters directly to the candidate. The next big innovation will be using Periscope to target voters. We’ll be tuned in, live and in real-time, to see how that develops.
Brian Jodice is the president of media strategies at Go BIG Media, Inc.