Tech-savvy candidates are putting a new spin on the age-old campaign rally. Fueled by newly minted software and breakthrough social analytics, these events give candidates greater opportunity to connect and converse with supporters, both online and off.
If campaigns aren’t using these tools, they’re missing a chance to exert influence and win votes. Alongside the tried-and-true social networking mainstays like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, apps like Meerkat, Periscope and Snapchat allow for new ways to engage supporters during events, albeit with some drawbacks.
The ‘Always Live’ Mentality
Undeniably the most interesting and recent development to take place within tech circles is the rise of live broadcasting. Meerkat and Periscope burst into the public’s attention earlier this year. What makes these technologies so exciting for candidates is that they’re changing the way media is broadcast.
In the beginning, new media platforms like Facebook and Twitter offered politicians a way to circumvent traditional media channels. They lowered longstanding barriers between those running for office and the public, allowing candidates to tell their stories without the need of an intermediary. Live-broadcasting apps propel this concept far into the future.
With Meerkat and Periscope, almost every individual with a social following is now representative of the media. A citizen journalist broadcasting his or her perspective of an event for all their followers to experience. By the numbers, this means there are potentially thousands of broadcasters/journalists at any given event.
For candidates, it means adopting an “always live” mentality. Live events are only a single instance of their many interactions with the public. But with this new technology in the hands of many, the spotlight is everywhere. Any public appearance, large or small, has the potential to reach millions more online. The importance of being on your best behavior is greater than ever before.
The Power Of Geofencing
The self-destructing image sharer Snapchat has predictably become a way for candidates to connect with supporters intimately, interactively and locally. For instance, Snapchat’s adoption of localization and geofencing has given users the ability to create and share hyper-localized messaging such as location filters for specific events. Imagine supporters at a party convention sharing photos adorned with a campaign-sponsored filter.
Geofencing and localization aren’t just specific to Snapchat. Other social media platforms are leveraging the technology to offer location specific messaging to their users. Candidates can now tailor messaging to groups of people based on their specific location. As a result, campaign events become social hotbeds, sharing and exploring highly localized content. For supporters at the events, it provides the quality of exclusivity only those present can experience.
Event Platforms Can Help Too
Before the rise of Snapchat, candidates used event platforms such as Eventbrite, Facebook, and Meetup to rally supporters online. In fact, these social platforms have matured a great deal since the 2012 cycle. They’re now offering campaigns a few new tricks.
Thanks to the developments in data science and social analytics, the data collected from a candidate’s followers and friends is more insightful. Campaigns are leveraging the social data produced from these platforms and gaining a more complete understanding of their supporters before, during and after events.
Digital event invites are a perfect example. They’ve given candidates a window into the demographics, interests, and personal information of their supporters and those attending a specific event. This information can inform a candidate’s speech long before he or she takes the podium. Just think of the advantages provided if a candidate knows the makeup of a crowd and what’s on their minds.
This social insight continues long after an event has passed, too. Organizers can easily track and stay in contact with past attendees. Moreover, supporters can carry the excitement from a rally into the digital realm, which can ultimately influence others and expand their favorite candidate’s reach.
Meanwhile, the number of technologies, apps, and social media channels at the disposal of campaigns continues to grow and the learning curve for their use will continue to shorten. Underpinning all these new technologies is the desire for candidates and supporters alike to connect more personally.
Chad Barth is a senior political and government relations manager for Eventbrite.