Thursday, August 17, 2017

'Memes' the Word for Today's Political Donors

Donors to political campaigns and causes are being drawn to a new strategy for political influence: viral digital. In addition to funding TV ads and PACs, The New York Times reports that deep-pocket donors are now bankrolling partisan organizations that specialize in creating catchy, shareable memes, messages and videos, especially on social media platforms. Outfits ranging from Occupy Democrats to the alt-right Milo Inc. are gathering donors who hope that their streams of aggregated links, captioned images and short videos will garner funds, votes and real-world action. While operatives across the political spectrum are being attracted now, the bandwagon got rolling with the Trump campaign's success with Twitter and other social platforms, to the point where a study found that nearly two-thirds of the most popular election tweets were either anti-Clinton or pro-Trump. The Times story cites many new participants from the left/progressive side of the aisle today, including David Brock, a well-known Democratic operative, who started an effort last year to raise $40 million to support Shareblue, a left-wing viral news outfit to rival alt-right publisher Breitbart. And there's John Sellers, a left-wing organizer and former Greenpeace activist, who started a Facebook page called The Other 98% to promote environmentalism and other progressive causes, which now boasts 5 million followers and funding of its nonprofit affiliate by donors such as billionaire George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations. The low cost for potentially high impact is especially attractive to causes and donors. Per the TimesStand Up America, a progressive group run by Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, reaches, on average, 10 million people weekly by only spending "in the low six figures" to produce a Facebook page of shareable graphics and news. For more detail, read the full story at