In the 2012 presidential election, Twitter was the gold standard for being digitally savvy, playing a huge role in how the public – particularly millennials – viewed the candidates. The social media platform set the tone for debates, speeches and the party conventions. At the time, the 2012 election cycle broke Twitter records: with Election Day being the most tweeted event in U.S. history.
But just a few years, and countless social apps and websites, later, there’s more to being on the digital upswing than crafting a 140-character tweet – and declared and potential 2016 candidates will need to broaden their range if they want to make a splash in this election.
These eight women leading the digital-meets-political landscape are advising candidates on how they can maximize their outreach on digital, whether it be on platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and YikYak - or through fundraising and building networks.
Mindy Finn, president of Misschief Media, Founder of Empowered Women, current Sr. Advisor to the Republican National Committee and former Sr. Advisor for digital to the National Republican Senatorial Committee shared with msnbc what it’s like being a woman working in fields dominated by men and how 2016 will be different than past elections now that technology has grown exponentially.
msnbc: Tell me a little bit about Empowered Women and how the idea came to be. Did you have the potential impact on 2016 in mind when putting together a website where young women can speak out about their own experiences with women’s empowerment? How is this platform different than say just offering a hashtag women can use to share their thoughts on Twitter or Facebook?
Mindy Finn: With Empowered Women, we are giving voice to a new generation of women who care deeply about equal opportunity and living a fulfilled life while continuing to prioritize freedom, family and free enterprise.
Women have more freedom and opportunity than ever before, and yet, young women today continue to experience pressure from our culture, communities, and yes, politics that they should or ought to believe something or vote a certain way. The loudest voices supposedly advocating for women tend to veer into advocacy for an extreme liberal agenda not shared by the majority of women in our country today. We care about working with each other to solve problems, not tearing down those who don’t walk lockstep with a certain set of beliefs.
We are a women’s movement for the majority. In addition to our online presence, we conduct deep research delving into the wants and beliefs of women today, surface ideas for women to pursue the lives they desire and connect women with role models and each other.
Given my digital background, and the predominantly digital lives of young women today, we will rely heavily on digital media to educate, inspire and connect our network.
msnbc: Having previously worked on multiple campaigns with a focus on new media, specifically Twitter, how will 2016 be different than past elections now that technology has grown?
MF: Digital media has reached a stage where it’s no longer whether a campaign will use certain tools, it’s how well they will do so. There are two equally important categories for digital and tech: what we see on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter and through email, and what we don’t see with sophisticated databases, voter and supporter targeting and analytics. The best campaigns will make both categories integral to their operations. In 2016, to assess a campaign’s tech savvy, we’ll look to see if digital is being leveraged to not only build an army of small dollar donors but also whether it’s powering an unprecedented ground game and turnout operation. The GAP can build a huge Twitter following which increases the number of potential customers engaged with their brand, but their success is based on how many people make a purchase online and in-store.
msnbc: What are the challenges being a woman leader in the digital political world, both dominated by men?
MF: Politics is a blood sport, for better or worse. Many women are turned off by that to the point where they opt out. To play, I think you have to put on your armor and engage on one hand while shifting the culture to one that values assertiveness, collaboration and kindness as a catalyst for successful outcomes.
msnbc: How do you know what’s worth investing in learning about and what’s a passing fad. For example, do you see the need for candidates to learn how to Periscope, Snapchat or engage in the YikYak community?
MF: In general, you go where the voters are; if a platform’s audience is a significant share of the voting pool, you should engage there. For the purpose of establishing a brand that communicates openness, innovation and cultural savvy, I may encourage a campaign to use an emerging platform before it’s mainstream. On the presidential level, you should constantly evaluate new platforms for whether they would give your candidate a strategic advantage.