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Digital Engagement in 2016 Election


As the 2016 presidential race gains momentum, online engagement is expected to play a key role on the campaign trail. In announcing their candidacy, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) relied on digital platforms to spread the news, utilizing both Twitter and Facebook to garner advance support according to CBS News. And, with the increase in smartphone usage to 64 percent compared to the 2012 election when only one in three American adults, or 35 percent, owned a smartphone, POLITICO reports that campaign mobile savvy strategies have never been more important.

"Mobile is going to be the big thing in 2016," said Chris Lehane, Democratic strategist. "It is what any sophisticated campaign will be trying to figure out and then maximize in 2016 — and all the campaigns from both parties will be in a race to see who can figure out the tools to best lever the power of mobile."

In the 2016 election, mobile will play multiple roles, including:

  • Campaigns will utilize big data and mobile advertising to micro-target voters;
  • Candidates will leverage social media platforms to regularly engage with voters, as well as to make major announcements;
  • Voters will leverage mobile devices and apps to organize on behalf of candidates and as a tool to persuade other voters;
  • Both parties will harness new livestreaming applications, such as Perisope and Meerkat to share video footage with Twitter followers, and people on the ground will also utilize these apps to capture key moments of the campaign trail — which can be used positively or negatively to frame a candidate.

In this 24/7 real-time, live-feed climate, candidates must be hyper aware of what they are say and do at all times. To this point, Henry Blodget, editor and CEO of Business Insider said: "Gaffes will blow up even faster. Partisan rooting will be even quicker and more intense. Anonymous trolls will swarm Twitter and brand any news story that is not highly flattering to their team as 'bias.'"

Given the power and reach of online interactions, readying candidates’ digital strategies will certainly be an integral component of earning votes that win the White House.

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