I was at the Qualtrics Insight Summit last week when Teddy Goff spoke on the main stage and explained how his digital team successfully ran the Obama campaign’s social media efforts during victory in two elections.
One of the most fundamental things that they had (which the Republicans did not) was an empowered digital team that they trusted. He explained that tweets did not regularly have to go through a lengthy approval process, and he elicited laughs when he said:
“If this had to go through legal…”
For their more edgy tweets such as one saying “this seat is taken” in response to Clint Eastwood’s RNC speech, they had a streamlined approval process. The overriding principle was that the “honor code gave the digital team the benefit of the doubt.” Goff’s team got timely messages “out in half an hour,” while the Romney campaign needed about 22 approvals to tweet anything.
Obama’s digital team quickly learned that their 30 million Facebook fans didn’t need to be convinced. They were already fans! Amazingly, those 30 million fans were friends with 99% of the Facebook population (which is larger than the voting population). This made their strategy clear:
“Everything was about arming the people that already like you.” – Ryan Smith, Qualtrics CEO
This in turn was a way to reach those who weren’t yet Facebook or real life fans of the administration. Goff believed that many undecided voters gave more credibility to their friends than politicians who they generally distrust.
This thoughtful speech made me wonder, could this successful strategy be adopted by a forward thinking Republican, or are they too stuck in their old ways?
According to Vincent Harris, the chief digital strategist for Rand Paul said that the Senator wants to run “a cutting edge digital campaign, something new, something that is very different from what President Obama had run.” You can see one example below:
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) January 21, 2015
Vincent Harris is one of the GOP’s digital stars and was previously working for Ted Cruz.
“I wouldn’t have left Senator Cruz to go work for Senator Paul, unless Senator Paul was a huge believer – as he is – in digital and he was going to put the resources necessary to run a digital tech operation.” – Vincent Harris
It appears that Rand Paul is more focused on the digital piece of campaign strategy than any of his GOP contemporaries.
“Rand Paul is a forward looking thought leader who is going to put a large emphasis on technology, probably a larger emphasis than any other candidate considering who he is, who his supporters are and his issue stands. – Vincent Harris
Further, Vincent Harris referenced the Romney campaign’s lengthy approval process and derided it much the same as Teddy Goff did.
“We will never be like this… If something is breaking, we’ve got to get it out.”
Maybe there is a hope for the GOP.
You can see the full Vincent Harris interview below: