Feel the Bern
About a year ago, it seemed that Hillary Clinton had a strong headlock on the 2016 Democratic nominee for president. Presently that doesn’t seem to be the case. A relatively unknown Independent senator from Vermont named Bernie Sanders, who Clinton previously had a significant lead on in the polls, is suddenly attracting extremely large crowds to his campaign. Sanders’ supporters are increasingly growing in size every day.
Sanders is even drawing bigger crowds than Obama did in 2008. His sudden popularity has people asking, “How did he do it?”
While there were theories that it was his personality or his populist appeal, depending on who you asked, many professional campaign watchers on both sides, including the Washington Post, who also asked the question, gave most of the credit to Sanders’ social media team.
While Sanders’ social media presence has been strong and popular with the clever hashtag #FeeltheBern, the man who actually runs his whole digital agency gives all the credit to Sanders himself.
Scott Goodstein, the CEO of Revolution Messaging, which is the digital media agency that powers Sanders’ social media campaign says, “All of these credited things are kind of silly.”
Goodstein points out the importance of Sanders’ overall message. “You want to make sure that social media and digital all have the same authentic voice and reflect the exact campaign and candidate message—[and Sanders’s message] is amazing. I’m honored to work with not only a team of people that is involved in the day to day, but a candidate who really has a true, authentic message and a desire to get that message broadcast through social media and [one who] uses the medium himself.”
So maybe it’s not Sanders’ campaign’s social media skills or his team’s ability to mobilize voters that should essentially get all the credit for his new found rise in popularity. It’s definitely not far-fetched that the proof is in the pudding…the pudding being Bernie Sanders the person. People seem to gravitate towards Sanders and his ideas. It’s apparent that he gives off a good and an honest vibe that many people relate to in various ways.
Still Goodstein does acknowledge that his team’s understanding of how social media campaigning has changed since Obama’s 2008 campaign was the first to use it, as well as its willingness to embrace new tools and social media platforms before other candidates, has given the Sanders campaign an advantage.
There have been so many new developments and new features in social media platforms that have taken place in the last eight years, that of course social media campaigning helps candidates more than ever before. For instance, Goodstein points out how when Obama was the first president to delve into social media campaigning, Facebook didn’t allow an account to have more than 5,000 friends.
“It was very hard to organize a national fundraising day when the most you could have in your one group was five thousand people,” said Goodstein.
Back in 2008, Twitter didn’t even have advertising. It is definitely easier now for candidates like Bernie Sanders to engage supporters. With his team’s social media popularity, It may be ironic that Sanders is in fact the oldest candidate running for office, but regardless him and his team are taking advantage of the this new age technology within social media and whether it’s that or Sanders himself, they are hoping they can ride the wave all the way to the presidency.