The presidential election of 2016 is a long way away (in political time), but the campaigns are already adjusting what they do to the digital zeitgeist of the moment.
The zeitgeist does change — and rapidly — in today’s highly mobile world.
So, could a text message actually be welcomed?
“Even a presidential candidate’s most devoted supporters could be forgiven for trying to tune out the torrent of campaign emails, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, Instagrams and Snapchats that steadily flood voters’ inboxes and social-media feeds in this digitized, pixelated, endlessly streaming election cycle,” notes the New York Times (NYT). “But a text message is different.”
Admitting that a text message something personal and a bit invasive, but “almost guaranteed to be read,” the NYT cites the example of presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders’ use of the strategy.
“(Sanders) did not solicit email addresses or corral the attendees into a special Facebook group,” notes the NYT. “Instead, his digital organizing director, Claire Sandberg, asked each participant to send a quick text establishing contact with the campaign.”
“We need to turn crowds and popular support and Bernie into winning,” she said over a video hookup. “So everyone, please, take out your smartphone right now and text the word ‘work.’ ”
Before long, according to the Sanders campaign, it had received nearly 50,000 responses.
“The killer app for the 2016 presidential campaign is not an app at all,” suggests the NYT. “It is not even new. Texting — that 1990s-vintage technology — has suddenly become a go-to vehicle for presidential campaigns when they need to get a message out as widely and quickly as possible, and with confidence that it will be read.”
Word has it that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Hillary Rodham Clinton have also asked voters to text them, in a bid build a database of supporters and their cell phone numbers.
Texting may seem old-fashioned, but it could pack a political wallop. With some obvious dangers, of course. While Sanders helped supporters “feel the Bern” via text recently, anything can be overdone.
Excess “can be unforgivable on text,” said Laura Olin, who helped manage the Obama campaign’s text messaging in 2012, “because you are getting into people’s faces.”