YAY! Another blog about Snapchat because I was quoted in a story and, yet again, my full thoughts didn’t come across well in two sentences and I started getting all kinds of calls and emails. You can read the article here.
This morning I was asked “if you hate Snapchat so much, why do you snap 60 times a day?” It’s for the same reason that I bought an Apple Watch and have been playing Pokemon Go. Wearables and augmented reality are the future. So is Snapchat. Also, I freakin’ love Snapchat. So there’s that.
NRSC executive director Ward Baker said in that Politico article “I think Snapchat is the future of voter contact.” I completely agree. That begs the question – why isn’t Snapchat now? Baker answered that question when he said “campaigns are historically awful at including new technologies in their strategies.”
Snapchat has the reach and the tools to be effective right now in political campaigns. Sure, I had some complaints about the company in that article, but they weren’t major. I said they are heading in the right direction. Fixing my issues is a matter of helping me make the platform salable to my campaigns. But right now campaigns, as much as folks like Baker are working their asses off to fix it, are still stuck in the past.
Here’s the deal. I rarely get a penny budgeted to me unless it can make two pennies. The digital teams have become nothing more than glorified fundraisers. We spend all day building email lists and then blasting those lists as much as possible for money. Occasionally we get money for a fun grassroots project or a gimmick to spank our opponents. Those aren’t places where Snapchat is useful, which is why I said they need a click-through feature.
In the beginning, the TV guys fought us tooth-and-nail saying that all persuasion dollars should be put on TV. Then we proved them wrong and we started getting some very small budgets. As digital blew up even more, the TV guys started accepting our premise and then they did the unthinkable, or actually what was totally predictable – they stole most of the persuasion dollars, arguing that they make the creative, so they should make the buys. Basically they just throw the TV ads on pre-roll and Facebook. (We can argue about that whole square peg/round hole issue in a different blog post). Because their TV ads won’t fit on Snapchat, they aren’t really buying on Snapchat –which is what all of us digital guys would like to see, but can’t control.
Now we get to the part where people will ask – does Snapchat really matter? Does it move numbers? My only answer is that I don’t friggin’ know. Campaigns won’t allocate the money to allow us to test it out. I strongly believe with all my heart that I can move numbers for younger demographics with Snapchat ads if I’m allowed to control the creative and given the appropriate ad dollars.
Sure, Snapchat has a few things to change (that would help me sell it to campaigns) in the functions the digital team can still control. But their downfall in the political realm isn’t on them. It’s on the campaigns, most of which are still stuck in the past. In a perfect world, all GOP campaigns would use Snapchat or, at a minimum, test it. In reality, that’s not going to happen under the current structures and with the current mindset. Speaking for myself, I just am not given adequate budgets, so I must spend resources in the places where I’ll be judged. Right now that’s mostly fundraising.
Luckily we have leaders like Ward Baker who are forcing campaigns into the future by making them spend more on digital and testing new platforms like Snapchat. What the NRSC is doing is totally correct. Campaigns should follow suit. I think they will, which is why I said Snapchat is the future. But I would much rather Snapchat be now.