You keep losing to the Republicans in the media. Donald Trump’s 140 characters get more media traction than any of your messages. It hasn’t always been this way, but your strategy just isn’t getting across clearly anymore.
Mainstream media has stopped picking up the progressive message and started picking up Trump’s message. 24/7 News is normalizing Trump and his dangerous rhetoric everyday. The left is being pushed to the sidelines of mainstream thought.
How did the party of Obama turn into a party that can’t communicate clearly?
The left was ahead of this curve with the victory of Obama in 2008. However, after Obama won in 2008, the right started working rigorously online and building real estate at a much faster rate than the left. The right was the underdog in D.C. for eight years, and they were working hard to get back to the main stream.
The left wing online eco-system is actually smaller now than the right wing eco-system. Democrats are asleep at the switch on building meaningful content hubs online. “Alt-right,” A.K.A, “Neo-Nazi” websites, fake news aggregators, Twitter pages, Facebook accounts, and Youtube videos have filled a lot of blank canvas online.
The left can yell at Trump all they want, but unless they build a bigger microphone, they are not going to be able to compete with the onslaught of content coming from the other side.
When the mainstream press look at top headlines everyday, they see the spread and report on what’s getting the most traffic online. Right now the left is losing this race. While political campaigns and marches are important, an engine that is smaller now than Republicans is pushing them out. Due to this, the left can run all the campaigns and marches they want, but the Trump engine will push those to side.
This online race is not even a competition anymore, but the problem is most Democrats don’t see or want to admit that they are driving so much slower than Republicans now. Democrats are driving around with an Audi A6 online and Trump has a V16 Bugatti.
If you are having trouble coming to terms with this, let me remind you that Trump is the president now. He never should have won, but he did it by building this engine online, and we now need to deal with it.
Here is an eight-point breakdown to explain all of this further….
1) Republican digital strategy destroyed Democrats in this election.
On every platform the right wing now outperforms, with aggressive and coordinated strategies, to the left wing. Trump’s twitter page operates bigger than most celebrity pages now. The left has nothing like this on Twitter or anything else. Trump now has almost 20 MILLION on Twitter and most of his tweets get 20,000+ retweets. The left only has artists and musicians with this kind of traffic and they are not dedicating their pages to political discussion 24/7, and never will.
The left is running down celeb tweets here and there, while the right has a homegrown and family run system of 100’s of huge pages on Twitter who can propagate the same message whenever they want. The left has nothing like this and it will take years to build.
If the left started building correctly on Twitter right now, it might be on par with the Trump engine in two – three years. However, few understand how to do this on the left and due to that, the right will continue to grow in a massive way in the right direction (no pun intended), while the left catches up.
2) Social media wins elections now. If you don't win on social media, then you won't win. Period.
The right just proved social media content wins elections now. Their social media engines overtook the uncoordinated left wing machine. The left didn’t lose to a good candidate, the left lost to THE WORST candidate basically ever, and Trump was able to do this online.
The people who led the left to this loss should not be leading the left anymore, because this election should have been won by Democrats. If this election could be summed up in a sports analogy, this would be like if the first seeded #1 team loses in the first round of NCAA’s ‘March Madness’ to the #16 seeded team. The #16 underdog team had to pull every trick in the book to pull off that win, but the #1 seeded team had to completely fall apart to lose a game like that. This is what just happened in American politics.
The left can blame racism, sexism, Russia, hacking, fake news attacks, and everything else but at the end of the day, those things were all just strategies used by Trump to BARELY win. The left has way more people on its team, but it lost the messaging war due to not having a “new media” engine to compete. This right-wing engine is what took a lame and terrible candidate and allowed him to eek out this victory. Now Trump’s engine is growing at a massive pace because it won.
Old strategies that brought Democrats to this embarrassing loss should not be used. Old leaders that brought Democrats to this embarrassing loss need to step aside and bring in new blood with correct vision to lead. There’s a new playbook in town, and a lot of it is how to win on social media. If you yourself are not winning on your personal social media pages, then how can you and the team around you be tasked to build social media correctly? Unless you have people around you who have grown something with no resources, then the people Democrats have on their side are merely strategists sitting in a river of resource and incorrectly using it. If Democrats had used their resources correctly, this election would have been won in a landslide and it would have never been this close for Trump to eek out the win.
3) Trump's media conglomerate of Hate and Fear is now 10 - 20X bigger than the Democrat’s media engine.
Look at the data. Trump’s Social media pages got SO many retweets and likes than Hillary Clinton in the last weeks of the election and his follower counts across social are much bigger. It’s undeniable now that we can go back and look. Many of us in the social space saw Hillary getting her butt kicked online everyday and were very worried about this in the months leading up to Election Day. At the time, we were hoping that these huge disparities in social media traffic wouldn’t matter, but in fact it does matter a lot.
Those engagement metrics were indicators of him winning over a mass populace, which eventually won the election. They don’t care about having celebrity tweets or endorsements. They don’t need to collect influencers to push campaigns. They built an organic engine online based on Trump’s popularity, and then propagated hateful and bigoted messaging in coded ways to his supporters. He tapped into a growing engine of white supremacists online, and he speaks directly to them in coded ways all the time.
Trump’s team used this engine of hate to create hundreds of personal attacks on journalists and media figures. Now Trump can use this engine to intimidate companies, offend other countries, and even lately threaten nuclear war.
4) Democrats are about 2 - 3 years behind Trump's social media engine, if they are lucky
The left can’t compete with the Trump machine until it realizes how far behind it is online. The left needs to wake up from the mourning period and start getting to work. But what does that mean? I see a lot of people doing a lot of work, but work in the wrong direction gets you nowhere.
Many left-leaning media companies are online but their content strategy is weak and will not suffice in fighting back against the harsh rhetoric we are now up against. News outlets that are not afraid to say the thing that everyone is afraid to say need to be springing up at an insane pace right now. Left-leaning media outlets that were in place during this election have failed against Brietbart & Co. If you are running a media company who was a part of this failure, you need to seriously re-evaluate your content strategy. Current media strategies on the left are not working at all against the onslaught of hate and fake news content that this country is now being fed every day.
Breitbart.com is now much bigger than most on the left want to admit. Breitbart now gets more web traffic than some of the biggest media sites online. They’re now beating NewYorker.com, DailyKos.com, and Billboard.com. They are even ahead of STARBUCKS.com. This is actually really terrifying due to the fact that this website is essentially the main hub and main source of content for what is becoming a new age of the “Alt Right,” A.K.A. “Neo-Nazi” movement.
Breitbart is only going to get bigger and bigger because Steve Bannon, who helped to create it, is now in the White House. Breitbart.com is now also bigger than MoveOn.org who was the biggest political online engine for a long time, but has now fallen back during the Obama years as they continue to rely on the old email model.
Breitbart is now 3 times bigger than MoveOn on Twitter and Facebook as well. MoveOn can send as many emails as they want, but Breitbart’s hateful message now hits more people, and they are populating a message which is winning in the main stream media.
It’s not only Trump, but also his entire staff and family has grown insanely online. Republicans did this very well. Trump’s daughter and two sons are huge online now. Kelly Anne Conway’s page gets more traffic now than most celebrity pages, and they use these pages all day long in a coordinated way.
Youtube has also become a massive hub for Neo-Nazis to coordinate their message to compete with mainstream. This worked and we are now seeing these hateful messages on mainstream media everyday. We are also seeing many of these YouTube personalities getting picked up and normalized everyday. Put yourself in the shoes of a Republican media strategist in 2012 and see that since they couldn’t get on TV, they ran to YouTube. They built a huge content engine online which helped them win the White House, and now their faces are sadly all over TV.
5) Trump’s media engine is only growing larger everyday with the Mainstream media normalizing him.
This is very important for the left to realize. Everyday the Trump engine grows way bigger against the left’s engine that is still in shock about what just happened.
Mainstream media is never going to do the job needed and cannot be relied upon. Each day as they continue to normalize him, this culture war is being lost in a devastating way for the left. This must be taken seriously.
Democrats need to think like the underdog again, and to win the mass media message back they must build in spaces that they haven’t been. Democrats need way more videos and content online to compete against what is now on the TV everyday.
6) Twitter and Facebook have been hacked with fake news and nothing is being done.
Whether it was Russia, Trump, or random GOP trolls, our social media feeds have been hacked by fake news. I think it’s important to realize however, that this is mostly happening to Republicans. So many Democrats are afraid of fake news in their feeds now, but fake news is not really in the Democrat’s feed algorithm of Facebook feeds. This concept of reporting something so completely fake and wrong about a person online really came to the forefront with Trump’s campaign and has terrible implications.
50% of Trump voters think Hillary Clinton is involved in Pedophilia. WTF? This is REALLY scary.
Again, let me repeat, “fake news” isn’t really happening in a Democrat’s feed on Facebook. I have never seen a Hillary Clinton pedophile link in my feed. However, they are everywhere since so many in this country have bought the lie. Fake news is being targeted on right-wingers to brainwash them to believe ridiculous things. Things like Putin is a good guy, it’s ok that Russia hacked the U.S., and that Hillary Clinton is a pedophile.
However, if your politics are in the middle then you have both messages in your feeds, and that’s where the fake news does the most damage. Those in the middle sadly got caught up in the fake news phenomenon that’s not going away, and we saw them move towards the right in this election.
The only way to compete against fake news is to have an engine of real news that’s bigger than the fake news engine. The mainstream media is not doing the job needed to get into the brains of those being brainwashed by fake news. Progressives should have that engine already given all their funding and resources, but no one in leadership positions on the left really knows how to build substantial social media power. If they did, then Democrats would not have lost in November. The fact that they did lose is a huge sign that they didn’t have the infrastructure in place before the election.
7) Social media is now more important than all the TV networks. Trump can tweet now and change everything.
Think about the fact that Trump now runs the entire media conversation from his Twitter page. Literally.
In 140 characters he can change what every single TV news station is talking about everyday. TV follows his lead now, and he is speaking to everyone from his Twitter page. Twitter has become the front lines of connecting with the world, and Trump has shown the world that what’s happening on TV is sadly now less important than what’s happening on his Twitter.
Democrats and progressives need to stop being so worried about what’s happening on TV, and start being worried about what’s happening online. The real culture war, which was just lost by the left, is happening online. The mainstream networks are merely following along, and reporting the play-by-play.
8) Everybody can tweet, whine, and post all they want, but it won’t beat the Trump engine in any way, until we build a bigger microphone.
The left has moved back down to the indie band status, and the right wing is now on a world tour. The online eco-system that the left has in place is not going to work anymore and needs to be built up a lot. Cities need to be built online that don’t exist. Entire web blogs and social networks need to be created and nurtured so that the mouthpiece on the left has more bandwidth. Until the hard work to build this engine is done, the Democrats will continue to lose out in the media to Trump.
Here’s the bottom line: the situation is dire. This piece is a first step in a very long process for you to get back to the place you thought you were before Election Day. The fact is, these subpar systems were in place long before November. As the saying goes, “You need to work on your roof when it’s sunny, not when it’s rainy.” Unfortunately, now the left has to basically build a new roof during what will be a huge monsoon.
To do this the correct way, we need new builders on our team. Folks who have already built a large personal network for them selves from scratch, with no resources. It takes a lot more understanding of the system to build with nothing, than to sit at a pool of resources and make strategy. It’s time the left start bringing on fresh blood with new ideas that have been outside the bubble building on their own. These are the folks we need on our roof during the coming monsoon.
So that’s it for now. I hope you all enjoy the first month of this disaster and if you want to start building in the correct direction, let’s talk soon. If you want to chat more about this, send me tweet: @Jason_Pollock.