Same As It Ever Was

Social “media” sure isn’t what it used to be, is it?

Facebook’s made itself more difficult to use and less reliable for targeting voters. NextDoor, LinkedIn TikTok, Spotify and Reddit either ban election-related ads or have broad policies in place that allow them to reject ads as they see fit.

So what’s a small to mid-size campaign to do?

First step: Reassess how you look at these platforms. Rather than focus on “media” think about the “social” part. Concentrating on the “media” aspect of things encourages campaigns to buy ads in bulk to “flood the zone” which is almost impossible online, anyway.

Instead, think of platforms as extension of field outreach. Platform are a good way to send volunteers – with keyboards, not clipboards – to talk to their real friends and virtual neighbors. Some folks talk to lots and lots of these friends and neighbors – they’re what campaigns are now calling “influencers” which is a fancy word for someone who like to tell other people what to do.

There’s no question that social part of social media scares most campaigns because it’s putting messaging in the hands of folks who may not be on 100% in agreement with the campaign. And many influencers will make mistakes. They can focus on their agenda, not the campaign. Or they just flake.

But those deviations are part of the social aspect of these platforms. When users talk about ‘authenticity’ they mean the ability to deviate from the norm, to show flaws, to admit mistakes. It’s part of genuine engagement. Which means influencer support can give a campaign a real boost.

But no campaign can run entirely on social media. Influencers may be powerful but their reach is limited – online and in ‘real’ life.

Paid digital media has a role to play these efforts. But the places where smaller outreach efforts want to do business are limited by budget. Regional media outlets which dominate local news in many places and the large automated trading desks have minimums and are often not very savvy about political outreach, especially at the local level.

Spot-On runs a lot of these local campaigns and we’ve come up with a solution to campaigns, across the board – if they can join forces on spending.

Our Virtual Slate Card makes it easy for consultants and media buyers serve these smaller outreach efforts more effectively. It works like a mail slate card – with a few technical differences. After all this is a digital ad buy.

Unlike mail or television advertising, digital buys can be combined across campaigns when the contract is signed. So a consultant or media buyer looking to place ads for a state Senate race, a mayoral contest and a city council races in the same or adjacent communities can pool resources for digital placements. Instead of three small buys, they have one medium-sized buy with three sets of targeted creative.

Spot-On uses its Pinpoint Persuasion platform to automatically guide us in telling outlets where ads should run. We make sure the right ad runs in the right district on an outlet read in that community. So the senate candidates ads run in the zips for that district, the mayoral candidate’s ads run citywide and the city council race is targeted to that campaign’s relevant neighborhoods. Spot-On tracks the ads by each campaign to make sure everything’s in compliance.

Virtual Slate Card puts ads in front of folks who may already be influencers in their communities, reinforcing social media messaging and helping keep influencers on track. Since more than 60% of news site readers are voters, it’s a safe bet that some of them are already social media mavens. Your message is reinforced. It’s also matched to earned media.

This isn’t the only innovation Spot-On’ working to deliver. We’ve got more in the pipeline. But if you’re gearing up for municipal and state house races this fall, give us a shout, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of Virtual Slate Card and give you a preview of what’s in store.