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Three Digital Technologies That Will Change the 2010 Election

May 13, 2010   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

The political campaign space is ripe with innovation as politicos and technologists alike seek to find more efficient ways to create awareness, reach the right constituents, and ultimately win elections.

As primary season gets into full-swing and campaigns across the country prepare for the November 2010 general election, we at Rapleaf’s Political Division believe that the following three technologies that will be game changers for 2010.

1. Influencer Identification (+ Word of Mouth Marketing)

Singling out highly influential people and getting them to spread a message is nothing new-that’s the whole idea behind high-profile and celebrity endorsements. But the rapid rise of social media has not only made it easier to measure someone’s influence, it’s also ushered in a new breed of influencers. Today, the most influential bloggers and Tweeters can propagate a message to hundreds of thousands of people with the click of a button.

The hardest part is knowing who the influencers are – once a campaign overlays influence with voter data, it’s easy to see who the cream of the advocate crop is and who should receive extra time and special care throughout campaign season.

Rapleaf recently worked with a campaign to identify the top 50 most influential supporters online. The candidate then called each one individually to thank them for their support, asked if they wanted to be involved more actively, and also sent them seemingly small tokens of appreciation. The campaign ended up with 800,000 more people learning about their cause when the influencers tweeted about their experience.

2. SMS Messaging

Did you know that 84% of people in the US have cell phones? That’s a higher percentage than people who own PCs and televisions. This means that campaigns can reach a good chunk of their audience on a device that they carry around with them all the time.

But there are many other benefits to using text messaging. First, communication via text messages can help campaigns cut down on volunteer hours at the phone banks. Furthermore, text messages are just as focused as direct mail or online ads, but seem to get much more attention from people.

By far the best benefit, however, is that text messages can be timed to be sent during important events. For example, Scott Brown’s senate campaign used SMS messaging with deadly consequences: every time rival Martha Coakley made a radio appearance, Brown’s campaign alerted supporters via text messaging with details about the appearance and encouraged them to call in and ask hard questions. This led to a flustered Coakley and a senate seat for Brown. We expect to see this method employed across the country in 2010.

3. Online Advertising: Focused Delivery to Ideal Constituents

Over the last few decades, campaigns and political consultants have gotten really good at using continuously-refined models to identify their ideal constituents and engage them with direct mail and phone calls. But unlike online display advertising, there is a lot of overhead involved with these traditional off-line methods.

Within the past year, it’s become possible for campaigns to serve ads based on both geography and political affiliation. Compared to ads on content networks, this type of advertising enables campaigns to show messages to their ideal audience more cheaply, quickly, and effectively – every person who sees the message is someone who the campaign wants to see the message. Rapleaf is working with some early adopters who have embraced this technology and are already delivering online ads based on voting and donation history, as well as political affinities.

Which technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on the 2010 elections?

Interested in technology and politics? Rapleaf has the ideal job for you – advising campaigns on the latest technology to help them generate buzz and reach their constituents more effectively. We also offer nice referral rewards for full-time hires.

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