…do you, Mr Priebus?
A study by Pew Research says that Americans are increasingly getting their news from Facebook and Twitter. The study indicates that 63% of both FB and Twitter users says that they get news from these sites, up from 47% and 52% in 2013. (Bear in mind that 66% of US adults use Facebook, whereas only 17% use Twitter.) In general, it seems that FB users are more likely to pro-actively share and comment on politically-related posts, whereas Twitter users are more likely to follow stories from “official” news organizations.
Of course, the fact that someone gets news from FB or Twitter does not by itself say anything about how important that site is to them within the universe of possible news sources. Another part of the survey attempts to answer that question. Among people 35 and over, 34% say Facebook is “the most or an important” way they get news; the corresponding number for Twitter is 31%. But among those 18-34, the number is 49% for both FB and Twitter.
“I’ve spent the last six years trying to crack the code on young voters. What I’ve found should terrify Republicans.”
She believes the current Republican approach to political marketing does not mesh with the way Millennials (“who view their comfort with technology as what makes their generation ‘special'”) tend to get information. Quoting the WSJ piece:
“Take the 2012 presidential race. Mitt Romney’s campaign stuck mostly with network TV ads during prime time, sometimes…paying nearly six times as much as Barack Obama’s campaign for an ad of the same length during the same time slot. Team Obama made use of individually targeted ads for satellite subscribers, tailoring the campaign’s message to specific voters in swing states and spending less money on network TV. The Obama campaign also developed cost-effective online ads that targeted Facebook and YouTube users based on personal-preference data, even running ads in online videogames…As more millennials pull the cable plug and spend their free time exclusively online, Republicans can’t expect to compete by pouring resources into 30-second spots during “Jeopardy!””
I think Facebook is a poor source for news and a very inferior venue for political discussion. But the Left is using it very effectively to circulate memes, usually in the form of simplistic poster-like images with a photo or graphic of some kind and a few words or dubious statistics. There does not seem to be any coherent effort on the part of the RNC, or any other Republican campaign organization or conservative/libertarian organization, to rapidly generate refutations of these when called for, nor do I see very many counter-leftist memes that I judge to be good enough, from a marketing standpoint, to be worth circulating. And there is very little of marketing value to be found on either the FB page of the RNC or the FB page of RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
My sense is that while the RNC leadership may understand old-style get-out-the-vote campaigns and precinct organization, they have little concept of social media marketing, and have also been outdone in the use of “big data” for campaign management. (See my post Catalist, “The 480,” and The Real 480.) I don’t think they’re really all that good at old-fashioned direct-mail marketing, either, based on what shows up in my mailbox.
The review of Anderson’s book says that “her prognosis is hopeful”…the book profiles some members of “a new generation of GOP digital strategists,” such as the RNC’s chief technology officer, Azarias Reda.
I certainly hope the RNC is figuring things out, and Reda looks like a good guy. But I think the issue here is at least as much a marketing professionalism problem as it is a technology problem. You don’t really need to be a technology whiz to gather information on what misleading memes are being circulated by the opposition and to craft incisive responses to them…you need to be a good wordsmith and a creative user of graphics, with broad knowledge to the issues and rapid access to a research staff.
So while I hope that the “new generation of GOP digital strategists” will raise the party’s consciousness and do it quickly, I am somewhat cynical as to the likelihood of this really happening. Also, a lot of the assertions that are circulated via social media are more philosophical than directly political…but do have an important political influence, and it is probably unrealistic to expect a political party organization to deal with these. (I have in mind, for example, some of the supposedly science-based claims of Neal deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, and various assertions about economics.)
So, while hoping that the GOP will up its game, and applying pressure where possible, perhaps some of the members of the “right-thinking” blogosphere should take the lead in creating an organization to generate useful Facebook memes, and to track and respond aggressively to false and misleading ones.
It would be a shame–and that’s putting it mildly–if America were to be lost because of a failure to deploy professional marketing communications skills effectively in the cause of liberty and sanity.