President Donald Trump talked on Twitter, but Facebook was the crucial tool that helped elect him, says the man who directed the digital aspects of the Trump campaign. Brad Parscale tells Lesley Stahl how he fine-tuned political ads posted on Facebook to directly reach voters with the exact messages they cared most about – infrastructure key among them — and had handpicked Republican Facebook employees to guide him. Stahl’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale tells Stahl. Parscale says he used the majority of his digital ad budget on Facebook ads and explained how efficient they could be, particularly in reaching the rural vote. “So now Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for,” says Parscale. And people anywhere could be targeted with the messages they cared about. “Infrastructure…so I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling…that’s micro targeting…I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat,” he says. Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.
Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week. He says they had to be partisan and he questioned them to make sure. “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump.” Parscale calls these Facebook employees “embeds” who could teach him every aspect of the technology. “I want to know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some,” he says he told them.
Both campaigns used Facebook’s advertising technology extensively to reach voters, but Parscale says the Clinton campaign didn’t go as far as using “embeds.” “I had heard that they did not accept any of [Facebook’s] offers.”
The conservative Parscale sees an irony in all this. “These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people on the West and East Coast. And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values. I don’t think they thought that would ever happen,” says Parscale.
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Bloomberg–Oct 6, 2017
Local Source–KSNT News–Sep 19, 2017
Facebook Inc.’s platform was a crucial messaging tool for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to the campaign’s digital director — who told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he hand-picked pro-Trump “embeds” from the company to help him use the platform in targeted ways.
“Twitter is how (Trump) talked to the people; Facebook was going to be how he won,” Brad Parscale told “60 Minutes,” according to an excerpt of an interview that the program intends to air tonight. The social media platform was particularly valuable because it allows for targeted messaging, Parscale said, according to the excerpt.
Facebook’s employees showed up for work at his office multiple days a week to provide guidance on how to best use the company’s services, Parscale said in the interview excerpt. “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump,” he said — and he questioned the workers about their political views.
Parscale didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Facebook spokesman said the company provided the Trump campaign with the same guidance and services it offers any major advertiser.
Facebook has found itself at the center of multiple inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. The social-media giant said it has so far found $100,000 in advertising spending linked to a Russian troll farm that has ties to the Kremlin. The company turned over details on the ads to Congress and to special counsel Robert Mueller 3rd, who is leading the criminal investigation into Russia’s campaign meddling and possible links to Trump’s associates.
A person familiar with the company’s work for the Trump campaign took issue with Parscale’s use of the word “embeds” to describe its employees because it implies that the campaign work was their sole focus. The workers had tasks for other clients as well, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is sensitive.
The company offered Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the same opportunity, the person said.
Although federal election law generally bars corporations from aiding political campaigns, there’s nothing wrong with a company providing training and services to a campaign if it offers the same services to every client spending similar amounts, said Larry Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.
“If you’d do it for any customer, it’s OK,” Noble said, adding that the services have to be offered to all customers. “It can’t be just for political campaigns.”
Facebook was especially useful in reaching rural voters, Parscale told “60 Minutes,” according to the published excerpt. “So now Facebook lets you get to … 15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for,” he said.