President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen Theater on Monday, November 16, on the economic recovery. … [+]
There’s no denying that President Donald Trump knows how to use social media to reach out to an audience. No political candidate has welcomed Twitter as much as the president has, and his use of targeted social media in the 2016 election was one of the key factors that helped him win the election.
However, this election cycle, it was President-elect Joe Biden who really worked on social media.
“Biden has certainly been working on a ‘strong’ online social outreach campaign this election year, but what really caught my attention was the power of the ‘party’,” said Josh Crandall, tech industry analyst at Netpop Research.
“I’m not sure how it happened, but my phone number and email address appear to be known to almost every high-ranking party official, and I’ve received texts and emails from all of them,” said Crandall. “The crossover was extraordinary, powerful and attention-grabbing. The topics they share spread the word, strengthened their positions and provided impetus for additional fundraising.”
Reach the masses
Social media is an increasingly important tool to reach an audience today. This is especially true with the advent of streaming media and many people turning off traditional television. Because fewer people watch commercial television, social media has filled that void.
“Social media is critical to reaching an audience today, regardless of industry,” said Seth Flaxman, CEO of Democracy Works, a nonprofit that promotes the use of technology to increase voter turnout.
“Even in our efforts to get the vote, social media platforms have been fundamental to our efforts to reach millions of voters,” Flaxman added. “Because modern technology is so deeply embedded in people’s daily experiences, it’s important to use these platforms to meet people where they are. By partnering with social media platforms, we were able to engage with potential voters through the internet get in touch and guide them to the most accurate information available. “”
Social media served as a way to share the most trustworthy and accurate voting information, but it was also the channel through which misinformation spread as well.
“As we’ve seen over the past few months, misinformation can travel far and wide,” Flaxman added. “As Democracy Works works with electoral officials across the country, we have understood firsthand the importance of our government-issued, accurate information about where and how to vote is recognized by as many voters as possible, especially in that moment of misinformation. “
Democracy Works provided the latest information to its partners, including Facebook, which was providing real-time reminders to voters, a vital resource amid many last-minute election changes across the country due to the pandemic.
“We also partnered with Google so that our accurate and reliable voting information produced the best results when voters turned to their search engine to find answers to common voting questions,” Flaxman said.
The role of the influencer
A unique approach to the Biden campaign was to use influencers who helped drive Gen Z voter turnout and “humanize” Biden through his one-on-one interviews. According to Village Marketing, which led the influencer campaign, influencers could act like small press conferences for youth voters – those that traditionally weren’t pasted on CNN or other news channels.
These and other efforts proved important this year as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the traditional “floor game” candidates were able to play.
“As election day ended, the boom continued with tons of texts from volunteers who gave time and resources for public relations. The news came in several times a day,” said Crandall.
“The connection made possible by text and email is one to one than the Twitter megaphone,” he added. “The personalization that is possible creates the perception of intimacy and connection. In today’s complex world, people are looking for human interaction more than ever. Biden’s party leveraged its online reach from the top tier to the bottom line of volunteer contributions, so Joe didn’t. ” I don’t have to pick up the Twitter megaphone and hit Trump back alone. This election was about bringing together the online resources of the entire Democratic Party, and they succeeded. “
Social media address Biden’s shortcomings
While President Trump’s grassroots community accepts and even welcomes his straightforward style of commentary on social media, Joe Biden has been called out many times for his “foot-in-mouth” mistakes. Even the president-elect has admitted, “I’m a gaffe machine,” while at least suggesting that he is trying to tell the truth.
Biden’s gaffes are so popular that there are now many YouTube channels devoted to his verbal gaffes, including “Joe Biden’s Most Awkward Gaffes Ever”.
However, social media is a perfect platform to make sure Biden stays up to date and avoids gaffing.
“It sure comes in handy when social media protects a candidate from themselves,” said Jim Purtilo, associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland. “Gaffes are when someone accidentally tells an awkward truth or provides glimpses into uncomfortable realities, and in the past voters could use those observations when deciding between candidates. Today, Silicon Valley largely ensures that only selected news comes out – the ones that Select company leader. No gaffes allowed. The industry is making a caricature of this candidate. “
In Biden’s case, social media allowed him to be anyone who can look into the camera and call the American people “people” while still being articulate and polished.
The future of social media could be one where knowing when a candidate is authentic is difficult because it allows the message to be tailored to the audience. President Trump used this successfully in 2016, and Biden used it this year. In the future, a candidate could really become “Anyone” as a platform could tailor the message to each user.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise,” warned Purtilo. “The analytics that have made the American company so effective at selling iPhones, luxury cars, and big-screen TVs can also be used to sell political candidates, and Silicon Valley has gotten pretty open about them marketing Democrats. Joe Biden was one of them.” greatest beneficiary of this technology of all time. “