I’m reporting on a rapidly evolving new method of audience outreach called Native Smart from a company called Audience Unlock that may provide many freelance writers, as well as marketers (many of which rely on subcontracted or in-house ad copy), endless new ways to earn honest money in your chosen field.
This initial piece in a randomly ongoing series will demonstrate how the technology can be practically applied to something that is currently on everyone’s minds: the 2016 presidential campaign.
Let the Games Begin…
Let’s approach the possibilities from an objective, non-partisan viewpoint:
Many pundits on every side agree that Republican strategists, who virtually gave him a free pass during his ascent into the republican primary, did not take Donald Trump’s rise into political power seriously. Jeb Bush’s Super PAC spent $130M promoting Jeb, while spending only $9.6 million on attack ads against The Donald.
Overall, the GOP establishment collectively blew through $67 million total in their “Never Trump” campaigns over the course of the primary season, only to wind up eating crow while essentially crowning him as their nominee.
Perhaps their whole strategy was antiquated in this era of celebrity worship and sensationalistic and controversial "news" generated instantly via today’s communication technologies and devices - particularly among millennials.
Meanwhile, the HRC PAC is currently reserving $96M for general election television ads, $5M million for radio spots, and $35 million for digital outreach.
The latter represents a substantial investment in a chunk of the electorate that so far has not only favored her Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, but at least a quarter of which have sworn to either back Trump over Clinton, or sit out the election altogether rather than hold their noses and vote for Hillary Clinton, who just crossed the threshold required to become the party’s official nominee, even as her opponent Bernie Sanders vows to keep fighting for his message all the way to the convention floor in Philadelphia this July.
It is one more wrinkle in a pattern that is befuddling the beltway while energizing previously apathetic citizens into taking passionately proactive stances (i.e., millennials).
In any case, social media outreach will remain an essential component of the general election apparatus on both teams. Neither can count out any group in an election that is predicted to be much closer than anyone would have anticipated with Trump as the nominee - especially considering practically zero pundits or party leaders predicted he would be the nominee.
The challenge for both Democrats and Republicans will be reaching out and recruiting some of the disaffected primary voters whose candidates were eliminated via due process.
This is exactly where cutting edge technology comes into play, a strategy the Bernie Sanders’ campaign didn’t need to foster, since it grew organically via his grassroots support system, largely comprised of millennials, which came with its own built-in communications network.
And unlike most of Clinton’s hardcore supporters, who are largely older than 30, Sanders’ base is mostly under 40 and already tech savvy. No education or intensified outreach was required.
Trump himself is a master of social media manipulation. He is already being ridiculed - and hailed - as the “Tweeter in Chief.” While many observers and critics dismiss The Donald as an emotionally volatile “loose cannon,” the fact is he has spent most of his public life in show business, and he knows how to push people’s buttons for the desired responses.
Of course, now that he’s the official Republican nominee for president, he needs to start building an actual campaign, and much of that will rely on social media outreach – beyond his current late night tweeting habits, which have either endeared or alienated millions of potential voters.
The Clinton campaign is also struggling to diminish its stigma as a stuck-in-the-mud, outmoded business model from the 1990s.
That’s where they can actually learn something from The Donald: talk to the people you need in their own language. In his case, that language has often proven coarse, vulgar, offensive and exactly what his massive anti-political-correctness crowds love to hear.
The HRC camp can also take a page from Sanders’ playbook - which means no pages, no paper, and no books at all. Today’s young activists communicate on an entirely different level, and any company or campaign that wants to engage them directly has to meet them on their own turf.
Get Native Smart
My brother’s solution to this core communication problem - not just for the campaigns, but for media companies and various organizations the world over - was developing the Native Smart technology suite, which allows content pages to be distributed in apps, including YouTube videos and Facebook videos. Even on a click to play.
As Audience Unlock CEO Rome Viharo, who developed the technology, explains, “The majority of younger voters are on apps, and political media is not really paid media, but earned media. Political campaigns require shareable content, like YouTube and Facebook videos, instead of video pre roll. The problem here is there is no reliable way to really get decent awareness and exposure in app, where many youth are, to YouTube videos unless they are on YouTube.”
The idea is to find out where your target audience is already hanging out, virtually speaking, and interact with them there, rather than trying to lure them someplace they really don’t want to go.
In essence, you want to speak to them not only in their own language, but also on their own terms, in their own natural habitat.
So how does all this affect you as a professional writer or marketer?
When it comes to the actual content being generated on sites that take advantage of Native Smart, whether they’re politically oriented or not, writers and marketers alike will benefit from the sheer number of people they will be able to connect with directly, yet unobtrusively.
A new day is dawning, not just on our political landscape, but also on the horizon of digital media’s future.
PHOTO: AUDIENCE UNLOCK