With their national convention fast approaching, Democrats are borrowing a social media tactic from retailers to convince voters to buy what the party is selling.

The Democratic National Convention Committee said today it’s working with Curalate, a startup that typically lets people shop for products they see in photos and videos on Instagram and elsewhere. But for the Democratic National Convention in Philly this coming July, Curalate’s DNC page will gather photos and videos in and around the convention that people can click through to, say, get more information on a plank in the Democrats’ platform. They’ll be able to register to vote or view a livestream of what’s happening at the convention at that moment. After the convention is over, Curalate will help the committee analyze what worked on their social media feeds just like any other brand, via metrics such as clickthroughs and impressions generated.

“Curalate can take people from visual content directly into some form of action,” says Curalate CEO Apu Gupta. “It can bring users information about getting to participate.”

Here’s how it will work. As people post photos and videos of the convention, a digital team of DNCCers and Curalate employees will organize the thousands of photos and videos into topics and create a stream with clickable content. Individual photos can include links to multiple things, from policy white papers to URLs for buyable DNC merchandise. The team will then post the curated content on the DNC’s website, its Instagram stream, and on monitors and screens inside the halls of the convention center itself.

Gupta says the goal is to bring retailers’ marketing strategies into the world of policy and politics. Currently, Curalate works with about 850 retailers, including Nordstrom and Crate and Barrel.


But the DNCC may be hoping to tap into a broader consumer trend. When political campaigns first started to us social media, they largely relied on text-heavy platforms like Twitter, says Democratic National Committee chief innovation officer Andrew Binns. But the fast-moving flow of information on such platforms can be much more difficult to follow than a straightforward visual feed—something the DNCC appears to recognize. “It’s how people engage with news-making these days,” says Binns. What’s more, he says, visual platforms tend to skew younger, which could help the DNCC reach a broader audience, including people even outside of the Dems’ convention hall.

The DNCC is already working with Microsoft and AT&T as its big tech partners for the convention. Curalate, meanwhile, is a Philadelphia-based startup, and Pennsylvania is a key battleground state. Tech may be global. But convention organizers get that all politics is local.


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