Social Media Expert: Republicans Need Us

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 06:27 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Despite efforts to bolster its presence on social media, the Republican Party is continuing to lose ground to Democrats because of a failure to engage voters, one expert says.

Mike Filsaime, founder of WebinarJam.com, told J.D. Hayworth, and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that the GOP is generally unprepared to wage a successful high-tech national election campaign.

"Before Obama was president, I remember being on a talk show and saying that Obama has 100,000 Twitter followers, and back then it was a big deal, but McCain had 1,800," Filsaime recalled.

"I remember some of the pundits were kind of joking, 'Well, how much is Twitter really going to matter in the election?' I can't tell you how much it mattered, in 2008, but I can assure you that now and obviously not just Twitter, all social media, like Facebook, matters," he said Tuesday.

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"Media is simply where the eyeballs are, where people are," Filsaime said. "Bottom line is there are millions of Americans on Facebook every day. I'm not saying that the politicians need to be on Facebook necessarily, but they need to understand that they can use Facebook to target advertising to the voters that they want by their age, their likes, their interests, all of their demographics right down to the city that they live in.

"They can invite these people into what I call virtual town halls, which is why you saw Obama doing the Google hangout and reaching millions of people using the new media. I see the Democrats doing a much better job engaging people online than I do the Republicans."

Filsaime says it is that ability to target voters through interaction on new media that will be vital in the 2016 presidential election.

"Social media is about engaging," Filsaime said. "The beautiful thing about social media compared to television or radio, where you have to rely on things like Nielsen's Ratings.

"With the Internet, you're getting exact information and analytics on every single person that's interacting with you and you can retarget those people back with incredible advertising. I don't know that the Republicans were doing that effectively, but what I can tell you they certainly weren't doing that was effective was engaging."

As an example, Filsaime recalled seeing the documentary "Mitt" after the 2012 presidential election and wondered why the "warm personality, likeable guy," portrayed in the film wasn't put out on social media during the campaign.

"Back in the old days, FDR, and nobody knowing that he was in a wheelchair, it was a different time," Filsaime said. "Today, people engage more with people when they know them for who they are.

"The politicians are going to start to realize that the more that they can engage on a real basis, not just with their message in their platform, but people buy into candidates that they like.

"Once they like them, they're going to stay very consistent with their beliefs in that candidate, even if they don't agree with everything that that candidate is saying. As long as they like the person and they agree with the majority of the platform, and that's what I think that the Republicans need to do more."

Although the GOP is certainly lagging behind in this area, Filsaime does not think it is a lost cause. Making up ground, he said, will require a change in strategy.

"You have the Republican Party spending hundreds of millions of dollars, and at the end of these campaigns they say something like, 'I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message,'" Filsaime explained.

"In direct marketing, we have something that is called a call to action, and it means that you've spent money on the media, you're doing the branding, tell the visitor or the listener where to go.

"So, at the end, they should simply say something like, 'Register for my virtual Town Hall at Mittromney.com.' Tell people where to go . . . and then you can retarget, you can send adds to those people."

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