Democratic campaigns have struggled to door knock during the pandemic. Now, they are barred from advertising on Facebook, since the social network suspended all paid political and social cause advertising indefinitely beginning election day after polls close. Quietly, telecom providers are also blocking political text messages and robocalls arising from legislation from the Trump administration. As a result of this digital quarantining, organizations are now crippled not only by their inability to engage their constituencies, but also blocked from receiving critical intelligence from canvassers and ad dashboards. Nonprofit end-of-year fundraising and 2020 political campaigns are slipping into a nightmare scenario.
There is a silver lining.
Overall, Americans have grown increasingly cynical of all institutional messaging. People not only distrust government, they distrust the media, ads, and NGOs. Instead, the people have chosen to place their trust in each other, expressed through their relationships online. Voters respond to more personal, visual, and emotional communication from people that share their affinity groups and local communities, rather than polished ads from NGOs and anonymous knocks from campaigns.
If you are a truck driver in Michigan, you are more likely to be persuaded by posts from other truck drivers in Michigan that appear organically in your feed. The same goes for Latinas in Orlando, Florida who receive P2P communications from like-minded Latinas about the power of their vote. If you are a senior, you’ll interact with content from a fellow senior long before a post from your Congressmember.
There’s no going back.
Power is now with the people, and they will not relinquish this new control. Campaigns will need to react to this new people power, now.
When the dust settles, the 2020 election will mark the rise of peer-to-peer communication — especially from micro influencers and nano influencers. A post from a micro influencer is 6x more likely to be shared than branded campaign content measured across dozens of campaigns from Main Street One. We’ve pioneered micro influencer campaigning through a CRM network of 6.3M people recruitable by age, race, gender, location, network composition, and even profession.
These campaigns begin through the identification of messages that different voter segments already believe, and then proceed through messengers that voters are likely to trust. If Democrats are to win, we must recognize that there are more of us who believe in common sense gun safety, a woman’s right to choose, and the threat of climate change, than there are who don’t.
Entering the new digital frontier.
With ads, texts, and door knocks off the table at one of the most critical moments in our nation’s history, the best way to push back against the coming wave of disinformation and outright lies after the election is to deploy peer-to-peer messages at scale. If we win, we will have to defend and advance the Democratic platform. It’s possible, right now, to arm online activists with messages undercutting Trump’s claims about voter fraud, justifications for not leaving the White House, and whatever else the next few months. At the same time, we can amplify those same voices to plant the flag on our own issues.
With coordination and innovation, we can get those messages in front of the audiences who need to hear it, through people they already trust.
It’s possible, right now, to still shape our future in this election and the days and months to come.
Curtis is the founder and CEO of Main Street One