Obama had YouTube, Trump has Twitter, but the next political winners will need Messenger, and the democrats are already onboard to use it for the  midterms.

According to Michael Sabat, former VP at the world's premier SMS platform,  Mobile Commons, and CEO of the new Facebook Messenger platform called @Mssg ("at message"), Facebook Messenger is the ideal tool for progressive candidates, campaigns and organizations to connect with new supporters and get them registered to vote. "@Mssg powers automated conversations over Facebook Messenger, which collect the data that an organization needs to start the voter registration process," Sabat explains. "The automated conversation then hands the user over to Rock the Vote or whichever service the campaign users for voter registration."

Why is This a Big Deal?

In order to understand why this is a technological break through changing the way successful campaigns will be run in 2018, you have to understand the problem it solves. "Most people are accessing the internet and Facebook on their phone. If a campaign just links the support to a voter registration page, when the supporter lands on the page they see 20 different fields and they are likely to leave," Sabat explains. "However, if instead of arriving at a web form they are directed into a conversation where they can message their answers back one at a time, they are much more likely to provide the data asked for."

In other words, when asked to fill in a form, users often get overwhelmed - especially if there are lots of fields on a small device. But, when asked for just one field at a time in text (e.g "What is your email address?"), answering feels natural and easy.

For campaign managers, the difference in conversion rates are shocking. In one pilot @Mssg powered the campaign collected new supporter email addresses at half the cost of sending the user to a web form. By replacing web forms with conversational text, donor dollars stretch farther and yield much better results.

Facebook is promoting new features that make it easy for organizations to start Messenger conversations with supporters. The most substantial new tool is the Web Chat Plugin, which starts Messenger conversations from a website. "It's similar to Live Chat messaging - a popular trend in recent years - where an icon pops up on the bottom right of a webpage. When a visitor starts a conversation from the plugin, it's a direct connection to the organization's Facebook Page. Even if the user leaves the webpage (and they all do eventually) the organization can follow up with the user on their phone, in Facebook or wherever the user uses Messenger. With traditional Live Chat services, when the user leaves the page, they are gone for good," Sabat explains. 

Other Benefits

There is another important advantage @Mssg provides. Unlike a form that only saves data when completed and submitted, each answer that is sent in messenger is recorded in real time. If someone closes out the conversation or gets distracted, everything is saved. This makes prompting them to finish in the future much easier and builds a more complete data record. "With the conversation, the user has opened this channel of communication," Sabat notes. "The campaign can then follow up the next day to continue the conversation and registration process if needed. This makes a big difference."

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the Messenger conversation creates an opportunity for an election-day reminder. It's known as GOTV (Get Out The Vote) and sending reminders via email and messaging channels has shown to be one of the most cost effective things that a campaign can do on election day. With @Mssg and Facebook Messenger, a campaign can remind the user it iss election day. Furthermore, @Mssg can help the voter find their polling location and can follow up to confirm that the supporter actually voted.

Starting Small

Even relatively small campaigns can benefit from this new technology. @Mssg promotes the idea of Finding New Voters on New Channels. "Canvassing has it's place, but there is a great advantage to drive a supporter from a social media engagement into Messenger and turn that supporter into a registered voter," Sabat notes. His company offers voter registration and GOTV tools for under $1,000 to prove the effectiveness of the platform to new clients.

2018 will prove to be the most watched midterm election ever. Any campaign would be smart to check out @Mssg and Facebook Messenger to find new voters using this new and exciting channel.