The Rise and Fall of Bernie Sanders

The nation’s young people were “feeling the Bern,” but the flame has since died out.

Like many young people, I have become a huge support of Senator Bernie Sanders. I still have a sticker in my car’s window longing for a 2016 win for him, but alas, that dream never reached fruition. He did sustain in popularity much longer than I had anticipated, and I think a major aspect of his enduring success came from his social media presence.

As a grassroots campaign, Bernie Sanders utilized his social media in the best ways possible. Because he had no reliance on super PAC contributions, Sanders turned to the people for support. And boy, did he get it. With record-breaking numbers of donations, the average amount of each around $27 dollars, Sanders charged onto the mainstream political scene with a force unlike any other.

The crowds who attended his rallies were larger than Obama’s in 2008. Sanders was relatively unknown to the public eye as a simple Independent senator from Vermont, so how did he manage this spectacular feat? Sure, he’s a great speaker with a powerful message and proposed administration (after attending a rally myself, those aspects were obvious), but what really drew the crowds in, especially among young people, was social media.

Can we just mention for a moment all of the “Bernie Sanders Dank Memes”? You might think the large numbers of pictures of Bernie Sanders is a form of satire, but it just drives his popularity even further, and Bernie fully embraced that.

As with any business, campaign or person using social media, those who utilize it effectively can create their own forms of marketing themselves and designing their personal image and brand. And that is exactly what Bernie Sanders did. His interactions with his supporters was genuine, his personality always radiating in every tweet released. Using a hashtag like #FeeltheBern and different photos, videos and even GIFs appealed to young people born and raised in the digital age who felt the campaign spoke them in a language they could understand.

This language was one Bernie took to every platform possible and never before seen in a presidential campaign. From classic forms of Facebook, email and text message; to newer innovations like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, Bernie was constantly updating his followers, speaking to them as if they were all equals, just friends communicating with each other. The entire process is one that felt natural and approachable.

Across all platforms, Bernie’s message was consistent. Every chance he got, he drove home his rallying cry: to end corruption and support the middle working class. This message was one Bernie himself so easily could back as someone relying completely on the working class to fund his campaign. He may be an older white Jewish man, but he connects with people most often overlooked. As a member in the crowd of a Sanders rally, with that booming voice with a New Englander accent, you can tell how emotionally compelled everybody is by his reasonable but important ideas.

Rather than using social media as a side attachment to the campaign, Bernie fully integrated the technology into every step of the way. The Sanders social media campaign was one quick to respond and update voters, coordinating with the press and other communications to never clash releases. Sanders also allowed any changes in his campaign to happen organically as people responded to his statements. For example, when a bird sat on his podium at one rally, the internet blew up with the trending “Birdie Sanders.” Instead of sitting idle, Sanders incorporated that simple moment into an opportunity to grasp onto the trend and further his popularity, making communication a two-way street. Sanders realized that some of the best campaign slogans and strategies could come from the voters themselves.

A moment that may seem insignificant blew up online with videos and pictures. So moments later you could say Bernie “Felt the Bird.”

When thinking of the current candidates Trump and Clinton, their individual social media campaigns have felt vastly different. A young person can easily pick out people attempting to “be cool” and use different phrases and images that seem to be trending, but when you try too hard, every posts lacks a genuine feel. And for Trump and Clinton, it’s easy to understand why they may be out of touch with social media: both have not used social media to a large extent in a presidential campaign, so trying to use it is almost like learning a foreign language. But the true difference between these two candidates and Bernie Sanders is that Sanders’s personal brand wasn’t one of a typical politician. He was just someone with a powerful message that many people could easily engage in.

Obviously that doesn’t necessarily lead to becoming the next president, but it makes a huge difference. While Sanders drew in large crowds, the people he attracted weren’t those who typically vote. So when primary and caucus days rolled around, Bernie often fell short, but every chance he got, he reminded the public that he is fighting until the end, always promoting his message. If done differently, Bernie should have spent more time figuring out a strategy to take his passion into action at the polls. But even though his campaign is officially drawing to a close, he still interacts with people and comments about political happenings, continuing to inspire Americans to fight for change. And his efforts are paying off as Democratic politicians have begun considering some of Bernie’s ideas to bring forward in policy-making.

Although Bernie’s campaign fell short in November, both Trump and Clinton have a large number of people to bring to their respective sides. The people who fought for Bernie are now the people hesitant about voting for either candidate. At this point, it might be a little late to draw in those young demographics, but we still have about three months before we cast our votes. During these last moments, if Trump and Clinton have learned anything from Bernie Sanders, it should be how to innovate the campaign process into one fully embracing social media as someone other than strictly a politician. Politics is basically a form of personal marketing, and our next president is hopefully someone with a “brand” worth purchasing.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


Lights, Camera, Live Action

With every new trend in social media comes another chance for companies to take advantage of it. Specifically, this new trend is live video streaming. Almost an expansion upon Twitter’s ability to send comments and messages in real time, live video allows users to

Video itself has become extremely popular recently. It’s hard to compete with such a dynamic form of storytelling. More than just a stagnant picture or status update, video gives companies the chance to speak from its unique voice, establish a desired brand, and shorten the social distance between the company and the consumers it serves.

Periscope, an app from the creators of Twitter, is but one program in a growing list of new services that are rapidly increasing in popularity. Others include Meerkat, YouNow, and recently Facebook Live. 

These benefits are only amplified with new live video features. Consumers appreciate a company that feels real and human, that they can personally relate to. Video that is live is difficult to make overly produced and edited. For consumers, feeling like they are an insider, experiencing something in the moment is powerful. Seeing exactly how a product works in real time is very convincing. Even the chance to potentially see a mistake occur live, a feeling of “I saw it first,” draws increased engagement and interest. The emotion live video provokes is raw and organic. The service also strives from word of mouth attention (again, very organic in nature), which is probably the most powerful advertising possible.

Not to pull politics into this discussion, but we are living in an age where grassroots efforts are crucial. From Bernie Sanders’s political revolution, to the countless Kickstarter and GoFundMe pages, the public craves organic action, and live video streaming is the technological equivalent.I even think of the streaming website Twitch, where many video game players utilize live streaming and have viewers watch them simply play a game, real people in real time. Or when online video chatting like Skype first arrived and how revolutionary to was to talk to someone as if they were sitting in the same room, seeing every expression and hearing every tone in their voice. When modern technology first developed, it felt robotic. Live streaming helps technology become more like a personal connection between others rather than a cold barrier, a middle ground prone to miscommunication.

Since now, television has dominated all video services. With live video online, brands can reduce the pricey costs and save time associated with making, editing and producing videos and commercials. What’s more, once the live stream is finished, it still exists on a page as a regular video, so if a brand wants to download it, edit it and reuse it, it can. Many different social media platforms have been experimenting with live video, demonstrating how accessible the transition is as people crave it more.

Companies using the new live video services for marketing purposes is still a new concept. The technology is open to many various purposes for brands, as some have already shown. These include hosting question-and-answer sessions with customers, giving customers an “exclusive first look” at a new product or service, and showing live events and giving viewers a “behind-the-scenes” look into different aspects of a brand. Before companies should approach live streaming, they should keep in mind how to plan a strategy for attracting an audience without becoming too produced, take risks with increased participation and remain flexible, and convey to people the company’s pride and sincerity. Companies who prove they can successfully live stream content reflects on their adaptability and awareness of customers’ wants.

Company GE is but one of many companies experimenting with new ways to reach audiences using live video streaming. Others include a live giveaway from Doritos, live summer-themed broadcasts from Nestle, and a real-time chat from Wendy’s.

Now that the capability of live video is within our grasp, we must utilize it. Accessing it unlocks a new world of opportunities for people and companies for dynamic storytelling. Rather than trying to read a few phrases or stare at a picture, a video can capture an audience within seconds and stay with them long after the screen goes dark. This is especially important when our attention spans desire the shortest, most visually engaging messages possible.

Personally, I have yet to really dip my toes into the world of live video streaming, but as someone working in the media, I know for those in business and even journalism, this is the direction we are going. It’s crucial to start taking advantage now of these services in their infancy and grow with them in the coming years.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Social Media Marketing: Quick and Relevant

Even simply over the course of my lifetime, the world of marketing, advertising, and social media has changed tremendously. Heck, social media didn’t even exist not too long ago. It’s crazy to think how quickly new technology and platforms are allowing us to progress and evolve so quickly. But with this quick change comes a need for a new approach on how to use advertising and marketing.

Advertisers used to rely on television commercials, printed ads, and even ads along the edges of web pages to get their messages across, taking plenty of time to design a marketing campaign. By the time the company releases their design, it may have even become irrelevant. Now trying to use commercials and traditional advertising is impractical, especially for targeting the younger generations. It is much too easy to watch Netflix or record a show, skipping all of the commercials, or using Google Chrome with the AdBlock extension. Without social media marketing, young people may rarely even see any other marketing throughout the day.

So this is where social media comes into play, but it must be used strategically and responsibly. Common advertising ethics are still applicable to social media, and any mistakes made could easily be amplified. For example, if a company releases a message on Facebook or Twitter that could be taken into offense (I’m thinking of a particular IHOP campaign offending flat-chested women), people will spread that message quickly, but for the wrong reasons. Obviously once a company releases a message, it can be hard to predict what direction the public takes it. That’s where strategy comes into play.

Successful social media campaigns have two important aspects in common: timeliness and relevance. As previously mentioned, outdated messages will be disregarded and ignored. Certain times of the day are better to interact on social media than others. Different platforms work better for different companies and messages. A Facebook page is a great place to start for general integration and interaction, theoretically dipping one’s toe into the social media waters. From there, a business could expand into further realms, such as Twitter or even Pinterest or Instagram, to take things to the next level. Twitter is great for personal discussions with consumers or any messages that are quick but effective. My mind first goes to Apple, who uses Twitter to answer consumer questions about products and troubleshooting. Other companies, even common-day ones like Burger King, respond to customers buying their product or talking about the restaurant to give a more approachable, personal vibe. Businesses that are more visual in nature, such as a classy restaurant or art dealer or museum, could easily implement Instagram or Pinterest to showcase their best work. A restaurant that posts pictures of delectable dishes would certainly entice me to stop by and try the food.

At my internship with South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I do a lot of social media integration, especially on Twitter, so I’ve developed many habits to best utilize the platform. For example, I tweet before and after a certain radio program to both preview the show, and later give a link to reflect and listen online. I also like to follow relevant accounts, such as ones for guests and supporters, and I like to include them in my tweets. I make use of these mentions and hashtags for trending topics, as well.

This view is one very familiar to me. Tweetdeck makes it easy to post content from multiple accounts, reaching larger audiences, and scheduling tweets to release information at opportune times, such as before or during a program or when the most people are online.

It is crucial to be aware of these current trends, especially sensitive ones. For example, comments pertaining to current issues regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and gun control require very careful wording to avoid insensitivity or taking anything out of context.Or if something happens in the world, social media is great place to play off of that event quickly and effectively.  The quick turnaround means that companies can keep up-to-date with their marketing and avoid the lengthy preparation periods before releasing content. For example, Expedia created a sweepstakes for a lucky person to win a trip to Brazil…just in time for the summer Olympics. People in social media marketing thus should always be paying attention to current events, news and trends.

With all of these ideas and tips in mind, social media marketing has boomed in recent years. The potential in the business is extraordinary. Companies who may have never reached the surface could easily break major ground just from the power of the public and social media tactics. For many companies, using social media itself has become necessary to remain timely and relevant with consumers, and social media is not going away or decreasing in value any time soon, so the time to start utilizing it effectively is now.