In mid-October, not long after Donald Trump drew attention for his 3 a.m. tweets, I received an email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign inviting me to help canvass voters in Iowa, a short drive from my home in Chicago. The message noted that “1,500 of Hillary’s best supporters” had headed to neighboring states the weekend before, and now they wanted me to do the same.
While that email may not have earned as much notice in the media as those early-morning tweets, it was arguably more strategic. The real innovations in digital communication in political campaigns are happening behind the scenes and on the ground.
As the former digital director of Organizing for Action (OFA), the political advocacy group that built on the digital-engagement model Barack Obama pioneered in 2008 and 2012, I’m often asked if companies can learn from the way political organizations use technology. I believe they can. Political campaigns, by definition, have shorter time horizons than companies. But the intense, results-oriented focus of campaigns offers some lessons on how companies can create effective digital engagement at scale.