But Biden’s campaign is betting that its strategy – reminiscent of Upworthy, the go-to site for good news – has the advantage of being loyal to Biden and more effective in building a core of enthusiastic supporters online.
In recent weeks, the campaign has tested this vision. He published a compilation of acts of kindness against coronaviruses with the slogan: “When we are told to stay away, we always meet. He rejected messages that attempt to reproduce Biden’s one-on-one moments with voters, like a live “digital rope line”. He held a “Soul of the Nation Saturday” to mark the one year anniversary of his announcement for president and a “Biden brunch”, telling supporters that “Mimosas optional, but encouraged!”
“Empathy is just as good at getting engagement,” said Biden digital director Rob Flaherty in an interview. “The suburban Facebook empathy moms we think about a lot, these people are just hungry for the contrast between the obscurity of Donald Trump and the kindness of Joe Biden. “
Flaherty added that “if we did what the algorithms told us all the time, it would hit Trump in the face.” Although “it will always be part of the toolbox”, a negative approach first would not create the stan – or eager to follow – culture that campaigns must develop. “The way you earn online in 2020 is [by] generate excitement and enthusiastic online communities that speak and get people in. “
Biden’s digital push arrives very late on the political calendar, after not having invested heavily in primary education and only because the campaign has moved mainly online. With people stuck inside and having more time to watch their screens,
a solid digital transaction may be more important than ever.
Biden’s campaign, which has several former agents at the top, did not count on “winning the Internet” in primary school. Bernie Sanders’ social media team was roughly the size of Biden’s entire digital operations. Many of Biden’s attempts at clicky content revolved around the former vice president’s affinity for aviator sunglasses and ice cream, and the viral moments Biden had – meet a supporter the operation of the elevator at the New York Times, or his emotional response to faith and loss at a South Carolina city hall – was not written down.
These organic moments helped inspire the content strategy of “empathy,” say Biden advisers.
The Biden digital team points out that other Democratic candidates have gained ground online without imitating Trump’s style, including Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. Andrew Yang’s campaign was able to outlast most of his rivals in the Democratic primary, in part because of his skills as an Internet messenger.
Zach Graumann, campaign manager for Yang, said it was not a lost cause for Biden. His main advice: avoid tricks and don’t take yourself too seriously.
“People like it when you talk about the elephant in the room,” said Graumann. “One of the elephants in the room is that Joe is older and he sometimes blunders. If I were them, I would look into it! This is what makes it authentic and would probably help them in their virality. ”
The content is just the beginning of Biden’s problems. The fact that his campaign neglected digital during elementary school resulted in a huge deficit against Trump.
Biden’s digital audience – including subscribers, subscribers and likes – is meager. Its almost daily live broadcasts often attract a fraction of the audience for similar Trump campaign video chats, which don’t even feature the president but rather substitutes like Donald Trump Jr. and campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Biden’s most watched video on YouTube was Barack Obama’s approval: it almost tripled the number of views of the next most popular clip, Biden’s announcement video.
As part of the effort to fill this gap, the Biden campaign recently asked its digital directors of state to help train volunteers in content creation. Some early examples include a geomapped timeline from Biden’s life and a video compilation of praises of Biden’s main rivals. But on this point too, the Biden campaign begins from behind.
The digital deficit is so severe that some Democrat strategists say the campaign should focus as much on broadcasting on other popular online channels as creating its own content. There just isn’t enough time for Biden to expand its own digital audience, they argue, so it’s best to access popular podcasts, YouTube channels and Facebook pages as often as possible and take advantage of their audience. .
The Biden campaign has taken a few steps in this direction. Biden and his wife Jill participated in an Instagram Live on Thursday: it was broadcast on Biden’s account as well as on soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who has 2.2 million followers. The Biden campaign is also working with Occupy Democrats, one of the most popular progressive pages on Facebook with almost 10 million followers, to share posts on its platform.
So far, however, Biden himself has focused primarily on traditional media such as cable and local news, rather than experiencing the quirky world of podcasters, YouTubers and Instagram influencers.
Josh Miller-Lewis, who oversaw much of Sanders’ digital operations, said that although the campaign launched regular live broadcasts in February 2019, there was no strong engagement until at least October . Building a digital audience takes time, said Miller-Lewis.
“It’s not something that happens overnight, especially with a page like Biden’s,” he said, referring to the little commitment his publications often get and to the public more restricted from its pages.
Miller-Lewis also said that as of January, the campaign had a full-time employee dedicated solely to building relationships with and serving content to other progressive pages and channels.
“The Biden campaign will not catch the Trump juggernaut, and, yes, progress can be made, but why accept a dashboard that you cannot earn,” Jason Goldman, who helped create Twitter and Blogger before become digital director of Obama White House wrote in a recent Medium post. “You’re going to have to spend more time partnering with new digital channels to create content just for them to make it work. “
Goldman added that a more “distributed” strategy could be a more effective way of developing Biden’s own pages than just investing money in advertising the pages.
” [D]In the campaign, it is more beneficial in the short term to reach audiences through other channels, “he told POLITICO in a direct message on Twitter.
Regarding the content itself, the Biden campaign believes it would be both pointless and strategically unwise to try to match Trump.
It would be “out of character with who Joe Biden is,” said Flaherty, the digital director, and “a worse version of what Donald Trump is doing.”
“We have to succeed on our own terms, and so for us strategically, it only makes sense to go the other way,” he added. “We have no other choice. “