Mike Bloomberg has a practically unlimited campaign budget as he runs for the Democrat nomination. That means his team gets to try out some not so common campaign tactics. While your campaign won’t have the resources of a billionaire, there are some takeaways for everyone from the Bloomberg campaign.
Bloomberg’s campaign blitzed the social web with a partnership involving some of Instagram’s most influential accounts. While your campaign can’t afford to buy that sort of attention, you can build relationships with localized influencers – including supporters who would never call themselves an “influencer.”
Remember that social media is first and foremost “social” and relationships are the fundamental unit of a society. You can’t assume that the right people always see what you want them to see, especially very online supporters. As Morton Blackwell says, “In politics, nothing moves unless pushed.”
It’s important to coordinate these outreach efforts because the effect is even more powerful when you create a blitz of your most important influencers sharing the same message at the same time. It even helps you with social media algorithms.
The Bloomberg campaign knows that memes are the coin of the realm on the internet. A meme is just a representation of an idea designed to be shared. Your campaign won’t be able to afford the country’s best meme makers to work for you, but that doesn’t mean co-opting internet culture is off the table.
Unless you’re especially fluent in meming, follow the lead of the digital natives supporting your campaign. The easiest way for a candidate to infuse memes into their social media is by sharing those that already exist. When you share memes to your campaign’s social media account, it encourages your online community to make more and similar types of memes.
You can’t win without competing in Iowa or New Hampshire…You can’t win by not being on the debate stage… You can’t win if you’re not a statewide elected official… Mike Bloomberg is challenging many of the norms that have guided presidential campaigns for decades. Some of those norms may be there for a reason and others may not, but Bloomberg can afford to test them out.
In your own campaign there are probably similar norms that go unchallenged, like a “must attend” event that really isn’t or that one party activist you have to make happy. Consider testing the limits on conventional wisdom in your campaign. These norms may have made sense when it was harder to reach your supporters but technology has made that easier than ever. There are a lot of gatekeepers guarding points of entry where the walls have already fallen down.
Identify an Unfair Advantage and Exploit it
Mike Bloomberg is a billionaire. He will never be able to spend all of his money despite trying his best as a presidential candidate. He found his unfair advantage and is making the most of it. Your candidate will have unfair advantages too and you can’t afford not to exploit them.
Maybe your opponent is an elected official with duties in Washington or your state capital. Outwork them by being at all of the gatherings and places they can’t get to. Is your candidate fluent in tech? Make them stand out and make them look savvy. Is he younger? Make the other guy look old. Campaigns are all about contrasts and you want to make sure your supporters can articulate a reason why they prefer you over your opponent.
We may never see another campaign like Mike Bloomberg’s but the limitless resources he has brought to bear show some lessons for campaigners without an inexhaustible supply of money.