Thomas Reiker is Deputy Digital Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Prior to joining the NRSC, he worked for U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Alaska Legislature. He joins us for the latest installment of the Go Big Email Interview.
GB: Snapchat. Thoughts?
TR: We saw the committee and our campaigns use Snapchat very effectively last cycle. It’s important to think of Snapchat not only as an advertising network for (largely) millennials, but also as a great organic tool to capture content that could perform well on a variety of platforms.
GB: This number continues to grow, but I’m curious as of right now heading into next year’s political contest, what % of a campaign budget for a U.S. Senate race should be spent on digital?
TR: We’re hoping to shift the conversation away from rote percentages to vote goal based budgeting. Know how many voters you want to reach, how many times you want to reach them over a given period of time, and what it will cost to do so. Then, allocate the necessary resources online.
That said, you’re right that digital represents an increasing percentage of total ad spend, and that number should continue to grow. We pushed campaigns to commit 30-40% of their persuasion budgets to digital last cycle and were really pleased with the results.
GB: What aren’t most campaigns doing that they should be doing?
TR: Taking full advantage of the conversation that’s happening on social media. Candidates have an incredible opportunity to reach voters with a direct, first person touch.
The comment section isn’t just a bunch of bots and trolls, it’s also a jumping off point to talk to voters about their pressing concerns. Newsfeeds aren’t just a repository for your content, they’re a snapshot of the larger conversation happening on the ground.
GB: Why do you believe you have an advantage in keeping the majority next year?
TR: First, there are several Democrat incumbents who are hopelessly out of touch with the states they represent. From Montana to Missouri to West Virginia, these are states that have trended significantly rightward since their incumbent Democrats took office. In that regard, I see a lot of corollaries to the 2014 cycle.
Second, Republicans are battle-tested and building on grassroots enthusiasm on the ground. Our incumbents are running robust campaigns and we’ve seen a host of top-tier challengers jump into the race in target states.
GB: If you had to say one good thing about what the DSCC is doing on digital what would it be?
TR: This is where my mother would tell me to say nothing at all.
Democrats ran impersonal, stodgy content last cycle and failed to invest the necessary resources online at the Senate campaign level. That’s as much an existential critique of the Hillary Clinton coordinated campaign model as it is of the DSCC, but it’s true.
I’m frankly astounded to see that they’re not meaningfully adjusting course.