It was bound to happen, given the president’s success on Twitter.
President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign plans to launch a smartphone app this fall. The app will “encourage supporters to donate, volunteer and reel in like-minded voters — all while providing the president more unfiltered access to his followers,” according to Politico.
The app is a unique way to get voters to be more involved as it will help those who download it to sign up for Make America Great Again rallies, register to vote, as well as calling other voters and encouraging them to support Trump in 2020.
Users will be rewarded for their activism as the most frequent users can be awarded VIP seats to a Trump rally or even a photo opportunity with the president himself.
“Trump supporters are more dedicated and committed,” Rory McShane, a Republican strategist who specializes in digital media, told Politico about the effort. “If there is any campaign where they have a shot at making this work, it’s the Trump campaign.”
Apps for candidates have launched in the past, but most have failed to gain major traction. The Trump campaign is planning on changing this trend. They have reportedly already gotten 200 million voter files from the Republican National Committee and they are planning an aggressive digital ad campaign.
Direct connection to voters is arguably Trump’s most valuable tool as a politician. He has over 64 million followers on Twitter and his tweets come straight from him, as opposed to many other politicians who filter their statements through a staff.
Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for the 2020 Trump campaign, has a successful background in digital media and he has made clear that digital connection between the president and his supporters will be central to the 2020 effort.
“This is how Donald Trump stays president for four more years,” Parscale said at a Trump rally last year while holding up an iPhone. “Now this phone is how we connect with you. It’s how we turn you into the army of Trump.”
While Trump’s unfiltered tweets are often what the mainstream media and his liberal critics blast him over, the direct messaging system has also allowed him to battle false media narratives and take down opponents with his straight forward and cutting style, sharpened over years of being a brand personality, as well as hosting and producing the successful television shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Betsy Hoover, online organizing director for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, told Politico that relying on an app can create a disadvantage for a political campaign.
“An app itself is not the answer,” she said. “You need a program and a strategy that engages supporters and builds community around your campaign. An app can help you achieve that strategy — but the strategy must be the primary focus and drive the usage of the app. If your goal is to recruit and train new people, an app is probably not your tool. If your goal is to increase the action your best supporters are taking, an app might be a great tool for management.”
Eric Wilson, digital director for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid, argued that apps are going to become essential to every political campaign going forward.
“It’s a no-brainer to go into the app space on campaigns. It’s an important battleground,” he said.
Trump is in a better space to launch an app than most politicians because he has so often blasted social media outlets for bias against conservatives. This has left many right-leaning thinkers hungry for a new digital platform to connect.
“Especially for people who feel intimidated sharing their political views on an open social network, like Facebook or Twitter — they don’t want to get into a fight with their cousin or their co-worker or just get into it at all — here’s the place they know they can share messages and not invite a flame war,” Thomas Peters, the CEO of uCampaign which built a 2016 app for Trump’s previous campaign, said. “They’re going to get likes.”
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