DemCast: The 2018 Pilot Projects

DemCast will produce A minimum of 2 Billion pro-blue social media impressions before November, 2020 – powered solely by the grassroots. Here’s why we think that’s actually a conservative estimate.

In 2018, grassroots digital media flourished in the lead-up to the midterms. High-quality memes were flying left and right, designed by resistance artists. Quality articles from knowledgeable activists highlighted the differences between blue and red candidates. Podcasts sprung up that helped to frame the narrative of the coming blue wave.

Here, we highlight two specific examples of efforts that made an impact and demonstrated the power of a DemCast-like approach to volunteer-driven digital media production & amplification.

Resistance Writing and DemWritePress:

From Daily Kos to Medium to WordPress, highly knowledgeable and engaged Democratic writers are actively pushing the party’s agenda through resistance writing, citizen reporting, essays and Op-Eds that remain largely hidden from public view.  DemCast will be able to help amplify this digital content so that more people see it.

In late October 2018, activist Margaret Foley wrote an essay: “The Top 10 Reasons To Just Say No to Knute Buehler” (the Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Governor Kate Brown of Oregon). The piece was shared through DemWritePress, a site (the one you’re currently on) founded in March 2018 by Nick Knudsen, a writer and digital activist (@DemWrite). Nick tweeted the piece too, and spread the tweets through blue wave stalwarts on Twitter. The piece was also spread via networks of Oregon-based activists and Indivisibles, who posted it in public and private, activist-oriented Facebook groups.

Connecting high-quality written content with a dedicated social media amplification strategy maximized its impact.

The essay was read 14,000 times before Election Day. Well over 100,000 people who did not click through to the essay got a mental impression when the tweets and posts passed through their feeds. 

DemWritePress articles have led to over 21 million tweet impressions on Twitter. In all, DemWritePress published 223 pieces from 53 contributors (18 of whom were Democratic candidates themselves such as Sharice Davids and Gil Cisneros) and garnered 483,765 page views from 287,377 unique visitors over seven months, relying almost entirely on social media amplification in lieu of search engine optimization. The total cost of this strategy was $300. But more infrastructure is needed to take this type of digital activism to scale.

DemCast will curate content from quality sites like DemWritePress – content that will retain its home branding and link back to the home site. With a platform like DemCast, bloggers and writers could have each piece reach thousands more sets of eyes, both through organic traffic on the DemCast site, and also through the built-in social media amplification . 

Social Media Amplification and #WaveCast:

During the final four days of the November 2018 election cycle, a group of resistance voices on Twitter experimented with a new level of coordination and empowerment. This #WaveCast effort involved a team of Twitter amplifiers tasked with sharing candidate information, reporting on GOTV efforts, relaying polling place information and offering insight and analysis on Election Day. All #WaveCast amplifiers were ‘hybrid’ activists, well-versed in digital amplification strategies but also highly connected on the ground to local campaigns. Each State had a captain to help coordinate the local activists and guide reporting. Amplifiers were encouraged to use mixed media by taking photos, interviewing campaign staff, posting videos, and creatively building buzz.

#WaveCast had roughly 170 volunteers, including 14 high-follower “anchor” accounts, known and trusted by the online blue wave community. Volunteer amplifiers stretched across 37 states and focused on the state-specific content. #WaveCast was “broadcast” using a hashtag framework that proved highly effective: every tweet by a #WaveCast amplifier included both the #WaveCast hashtag and a state-specific hashtag such as #WaveCastTX or #WaveCastCA.

The #WaveCast hashtag garnered 320 million impressions over just four days.

By designating online activists as amplifiers, #WaveCast acknowledged their expertise in local races and grassroots efforts. #WaveCast’s collaborative strategy empowered the online activist community and motivated the activists to go above and beyond. #WaveCast established structure, processes and a system for feedback to improve shared content and messaging. The activists enjoyed bringing some order and structure to the normal free-for-all of Twitter.

#WaveCast demonstrated how to build a grassroots army that is connected via social media at the national level, and personally connected within states. #WaveCast emphasized the use of photos, videos, streaming, YouTube and podcasts, which helped to build buzz and drive clicks. The cost of #WaveCast was $0, but it required more-than-full-time coordination. DemCast would strengthen the online activist infrastructure and make sure it is powerful and organized going into 2020.