The New Social Cycle

Toby Fallsgraff, Managing Director, Campaigns, Do Big Things, Phil Bartel, Deputy Director, Independent Expenditure Unit, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Luke Partridge, Director, Digital Communications, Global Strategy Group, Aimee Stern, Community Outreach, Andrew Gillum for Governor 

Phil: Our candidates were outraced, particularly on the dollar side. Priorities moving more toward digital cycle.

Luke: Surprised how many adapted to new reality. What we saw was people quickly adapting, in this new reality coming up with new ways of doing things. Recurring dream that I need a U.S. passport to advertise it. 

Amy: We didn’t really have a strategy in terms of social media. Bringing it into FB, even Instagram photos weren’t that interesting. Thought we could have used that medium much better. In Palm Beach office, motivated volunteers. Had a lot to say, share. Put stuff up on FB, told to take it down. 

Toby: How do I do what Beto or AOC did? Whjat do you tell them?

Luke: what we find is a lot asking that question. Two halves to the answer. First, Beto outspent anyone on FB by a factor of 2. Spreading a positive message. That and money is key. Transformative candidates changing world of politics. AOC responding to dancing video, out of playbook of response video. Learn from what’s successful. Won’t work for everyone. You adopted the darkness, was born in it approach.

Amy: You have to speak your truth. We didn’t have material, much access to candidates. Waiting for Democrats to come up with a strategy for what we were supposed to do. Let’s go for a blue wave. It cost us.

Phil: Create content that performs well on these platforms. Twitter is the new press release. All moving to social. 

Toby: Luke, you did a lot of work with gun violence prevention. Student activists emerged, esp. on digital. How did that happen?

Luke: We do a lot of work around social listening. Past year or so to look at what different groups of voters are saying. What we found, particularly re: Parkland, they made an amazing amount of noise. Once it became a partisan issue, once there is an opp to go out and advocate for your team, that is one of the greatest motivators. 2016, found there were people who hadn’t Voted in key states. Re: healthcare, asked them to hyper engage with their representatives. What we saw in 2016 and now is the importance of identiTies.

Toby: Amy, speaking of identity, 2020 potential candidates. You help candidate defy traditional strategies. 

Amy: You have to be brave, get out there and talk about what your believe In. In 2016, lots of wishy washy cost us a lot. Mom Complex I worked for, I learned that moms don’t tell the truth. What to appear better moms than they are. Same often true of voting public. You have to get beneath the surface and not believe the first thing you are told. These things change. Takes more talking to people one on one, pushing to get their view points. 

Toby: Phil, thought about FB policy changes? Has self-policing changed your approach?

Phil: only place we could advertise was news feed on FB. Video was suddenly extremely expensive. Found it worked great for response. During Kavanaugh hearings ran display ads. Performed great for us. Introduction of transparency changed us. Marks a shift of digital being more like TV. Makes it easier for digital marketers to get a seat at the table. Rollout was as smooth as we could have hoped for, getting verified was simple. Vice did an article where they were able to run [fake] ads. Going forward, avoiding any real bias. Or perceived Bias. 

Toby: Transparency affecting strategy. How much more work did that add to your plate? Affect buying?

Phil: It was backward looking, not forward. I was looking at what content was running, how does it fit into our message.

Toby: So, 2020, what’s a bold prediction you can make?

Amy: We’re going to have a female president. What I would like to see in the campaign, the fundraising piece and social media piece coordinate. Lot of messages fighting with each other. People frustrated. On her FB page, a candidate would be proud of fact of raising more money. In fundraising piece, dramatic messages asking for money. People have to talk to each other. 

Luke: Raw numbers, 74% use YouTube, particularly impactful among Democrats, African Americans, college degrees and 18 to 24 year olds, most important to Democratic coalition. Candidates like AOC have really good stories to tell. 

Phil: Huge shift towards text messaging. More difficult to run on social. Not just for fundraising but for persuasion. Create own new social channel. Peer to peer texting.

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