Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Movers & Shakers

Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Movers & Shakers

Article excerpt

Video is now the engine driving web traffic, says Democratic strategist Laura Olin. Campaigns need to get on board.

C&E: So video is what will drive page views going into 2016?

Laura Olin: Facebook for the last year and a half has really been pushing native video uploaded directly to the platform over photos or linked posts in its algorithm. Videos have a huge advantage in term of who's going to see it. They just get more reach. The video of the president taking selfies with the selfie stick got at least 20 million views. It's the way to reach so many more eyeballs than you otherwise could. So are emerging platforms like Snapchat, which has a younger demographic that campaigns really need to reach. Campaigns need to be figuring out who they're trying to reach, where they are and which format is best.

Campaigns also need to be creating content just for social. BuzzFeed has an entire unit of people now who are creating stuff just for their Tumblr, just for their Vine account, on the premise that in five years BuzzFeed's website is going to be pretty irrelevant because people aren't going to be consuming content directly on platforms. You need to figure out how to speak to people and spread messages and get people to take action directly on those platforms without having to go through the intermediary of a website.

C&E: Is the campaign homepage still critical or is it going to be more important to have a Tumblr or Instagram account?

Olin: It still is, especially for older generations. People still do Google searches. They still want to know where a candidate is on an issue, but as people spend more of their time on their phones and social networks, website traffic isn't going to be as relevant. The media is going to be a different story in 2016. People should be looking to the future.

C&E: Could 2016 be the first mobiledriven campaign cycle?

Olin: In November of 2011 we built the first mobile campaign website. Now, 50 percent of YouTube traffic is through mobile. Any campaign that doesn't design for mobile first is going to be losing out on eyeballs and users, support and donations.

C&E: What about fundraising?

Olin: Email is still going to be the main driver. We had some success in 2012 with raising money online with social, but compared to email it was still a drop in the bucket. The big challenge for cami is figuring out how to-especially with the younger demographics -get them to pay attention, donate and invest in campaigns that way. It's going to be a really interesting.

C&E: How do you get someone to donate on social?

Olin: A lot of it is just about balance and picking your moments. There's a photographer (Brandon Stanton) who has built up an online empire for himself called Humans of New York. He's a great example. Over a period of two years, he's built up this amazing fan base not just on Facebook, but on Tumblr and Instagram and he occasionally does these amazing fundraisers for an underprivileged school in New York. I think he raised $2 million off his latest one. Obviously all campaigns can't do that, but it's just the example of giving people something interesting they can share, and building a relationship with someone and picking a moment that it really matters when you ask. The culture around email is really different because people are used to multiple asks, but on social it's a different story. It's a balance between giving people stuff that they want and then picking your moment to get them to invest in something.

C&E: How hard is it for a digital team to capture a candidate's personality?

Olin: With [President Obama] we had an easier time of it because he had a such a strong personal voice. He's written two really beautiful books that express that voice really well so I feel like we had a really strong base to start from. In the early days there was a lot of trying to strike a balance between doing stuff that would work well for the Internet but was still true to the president and to the dignity of the office. …

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