As with many other aspects of American life in the 21st century, technology will play a significant role in the 2016 presidential election. Many commentators now believe that the race will be won by whichever candidate is best able to utilize tech to mobilize voters on election day. Here are some of the digital tools that leading candidates are using to get the vote. Entrepreneurs can use those same tools to drive growth in their own operations.


Branded apps


As noted in this Fast Company article, Senator Rand Paul has taken the innovative step of releasing a branded mobile application on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Through the app, Paul’s supporters can donate money to his campaign, find out the latest news about his campaign and share campaign created memes that are designed for maximum shareability. According to Fast Company, Senator Ted Cruz has also gotten into the app game. His app allows users to connect with other Cruz supporters in their area, and it offers rewards for those who share Cruz’s content on Facebook and Twitter. These apps are a great idea for politicians and business owners for two reasons — they give the candidate’s most ardent supporters the tools needed to become social influencers, and they speak directly to highly sought after and traditional advertising averse millennials.


Social media


Given his virtual ubiquity in traditional and new media channels, one might think that Donald Trump has spent a considerable portion of his fortune on his campaign. However, according to the Federal Election Commission, so far Trump’s campaign has only spent $12 million. Yet, this comparably small sum has achieved a consistent lead over his nearest GOP rival, as shown by Real Clear Politics. Trump has been so successful because he has utilized social media much more effectively than any other candidate this cycle, whether it’s directly engaging with his supporters through his 5.84 million Twitter followers or releasing instantly viral videos through Instagram. Conversely, some of Trump’s less technically inclined competitors have failed to gain traction despite spending millions on expensive and largely ineffective traditional media ad buys.


Digital strategy


One reason President Obama was able to win the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections was because his campaign had an incredibly organized ground game and an innovative digital infrastructure. In addition to achieving full-spectrum dominance on the nation’s most popular social networks, Obama’s team provided campaign workers and supporters all across the country with internet integrated tools that made donation collection, voter registration and on the ground coordination as seamless as possible. Learning from her defeat in 2008, Hillary Clinton has gone headfirst into digital strategy. Her campaign has found incredible success utilizing emerging social platforms like Snapchat, generating a raft of viral content and using the robust data collection opportunities available in the now hyper-connected world to target potential voters with laser precision. While very few entrepreneurs have the financial resources of a presidential campaign, anyone with an internet connection and the will to succeed can implement a similar digital first strategy to promote their brand.


This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse


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