Sorry Snapchat, but you’re not winning the next election

Two women on a bench looking at phones. CC0 Public Domain

Wired reports:

Every election season has its shiny new toy, and this year [in America], Snapchat is most definitely it…

And yet, even as candidates and their young teams play with the platform, behind the scenes, many of the digital teams on presidential campaigns say it’s far too early to dub 2016 the Snapchat election…

The fact is, Snapchat’s entire business model is built around keeping user data private … But … [such data is] particularly important in political advertising, where campaigns must connect ads to voters – whose phone numbers they plan to call and on whose doors they plan to knock next election day.

In fact, the point goes more broadly than just political advertising and covers political campaigning more generally too. Being able to join up data between different methods of contacting voters makes those contacts much more effective.

That’s why, for example, simply locking away email addresses, perhaps with people’s names if you’re lucky, in an email-only platform isn’t wise. Tying up that data with the electoral register and with canvass data means you can email strong supporters financial appeals, low turnout supporters messages about postal voting and parents messages about school catchment areas.

The more data you bring together (even if it is via the basic method of exporting and import csv files), the more effective your contacts can be.

That may all sound obvious, but it’s noticeable how little political activists in the UK – of all hues – chatter about tips for how best to match up, clean up and integrate data, from the basics about how to avoid losing the initial 0 on phone numbers when you open up data in Excel through to which email platforms are best to work alongside their electoral register database.

Yet as Ed Maxfield and I put it in 101 Ways To Win An Election: “data is your organisational lifeblood”. More on that, of course, in our book which you can get here.

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