Biden campaign ramps up digital game as election goes virtual
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is ramping up its digital operation as the 2020 presidential election goes virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic — with new outreach on their app, streaming town halls with the presumptive Democratic nominee and more.
Campaigning styles have changed dramatically in the era of coronavirus, but the Biden team has sought to quickly adapt to the new landscape.
In the last month, the campaign generated more than 54.9 million views across their social media platforms, including more than 17 million video views in the last week.
But where the Biden campaign is seeing some of their largest digital interest is on their “Team Joe” app, which has tripled user engagement in the last month.
“Since launching the Team Joe app in December, we have seen an incredible response from our supporters across the country and witnessed its impact as part of our digital organizing program,” Biden deputy national press secretary Matt Hill told Fox News.
The campaign has boosted outreach efforts on the app in recent weeks, sending 50 percent more messages to supporters and potential supporters than before the coronavirus crisis. The campaign has also seen a 91 percent increase in surveys answered in the month of April, compared with March and months earlier this year.
The app, which was created entirely in-house by the Biden campaign’s engineering team and is free to download on the App Store, launched in December. A Biden campaign official told Fox News that the app leverages existing relationships among supporters and allows them to identify and engage new supporters and potential persuadable supporters.
The campaign sends mass text messages from the app encouraging Get Out The Vote (GOVT), inviting and recruiting new volunteers for the campaign, and notifying of events. The app also sends push alert notifications for important updates.
The app also takes users to the Biden campaign’s donation page and “action center,” which a campaign official told Fox News is “another vehicle for fundraising.” The official told Fox News that the app is “strategic” on the campaign side because it allows them to build an online community.
“From recruiting volunteers to turning our voters Super Tuesday to checking in with supporters during the pandemic, tools like the Team Joe app have empowered our campaign to build a powerful online network that has helped propel Joe Biden to become the presumptive Democratic nominee,” Hill told Fox News.
During coronavirus, though, organizing looks a lot different than a typical election year. Some of the outreach the campaign is doing from the app is sending out simple text messages to “check in” on supporters.
One supporter who received a “check-in” posted about her experience on Reddit earlier this month. The supporter said she was told it was someone from the Biden campaign, and “immediately thought” it was time to donate.
“But the guy immediately told me he’s not calling to solicit donations, and in fact, he told me he would not take my money even if I offered it,” the supporter posted. “He just wanted to make sure me and my family were doing okay, and asked if he can put me in touch with anyone about resources, unemployment, medical issues, etc.”
“When I said no, he wished me well and sent me on my way,” the supporter continued, noting that “it could be a gimmick,” but that she “appreciated the gesture.”
“No gimmick here, that’s just @TeamJoe meeting voters where they are and leading every interaction like @JoeBiden would – with compassion and their whole heart,” Emma Riley, who works in communications for the Biden campaign, tweeted earlier this month.
As for virtual events, since March 14, the Biden campaign has hosted more than a dozen virtual town halls, tele town halls, events for frontline workers, families facing unemployment issues, and even what they call “#SOULSaturday,” which are virtual rallies featuring Biden and state and local officials who support him.
“We may be physically apart, but…join us in coming together!” the campaign says in inviting supporters to participate.
The virtual events have also included former 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. Earlier this month, the campaign hosted an event with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and last week hosted an event with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Over the weekend, the campaign hosted a digital summit, with more than 800 participants who were trained in the basics of digital organizing and community content production.
On Monday afternoon, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will host a virtual town hall for the Biden campaign with African American leaders, and on Monday evening, Dr. Jill Biden will host a virtual LGBTQ+ Social Hour.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign launched its own app last week, which allows supporters to “engage with the campaign from their couch, or wherever they are,” campaign manager Brad Parscale told Fox News.
According to the campaign, “rewards points” are given to users who convince contacts to download the app. Users accumulating the most points are eligible for a photograph with President Trump.
“Get a front row seat to our virtual events,” a Trump campaign digital advertisement promises.
Another reward for the most engaged users is expedited entry into events – although it’s unclear when public health concerns tied to COVID-19 will permit another one.
The Trump app had been in development for at least seven months and was originally primarily designed for use at rallies.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy contributed to this report.