The internet has become a loud and crowded space in the last ten years. On your Facebook newsfeed — or on YouTube — news organizations like CNN vie for views with amateur videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger”. All the while, people are scrambling to sort through the ever growing heap of content at their disposal. The question for campaigns then becomes: how do you carve out a space for your candidate and supporters to interact and be heard in this media landscape. Well, the answer to that came from an unlikely place: schools. Specifically, Flipgrid, an interactive video platform designed to help educators replicate the classroom environment online.
Flipgrid gives its users the ability to create a “grid”, that is a customizable page where users can upload different videos and accompanying text. Users have the ability to share their grid to others simply by copying and pasting the URL, or they can restrict access to it by password. Either way, once users are on the grid, they can click on to videos to play, comment, and respond. And respond is the key here. Users have the ability to upload their own videos in response, which are arrayed beneath the original. In doing so, Flipgrid mirrors the classroom environment: a teacher talking about a subject to class before opening it up for questions and responses.
But this form also is strikingly similar to another mainstay of society: the townhall. This is where Flipgrid offers a unique value proposition to politicians and campaigns. By letting a campaign create a grid, politicians can upload videos of them speaking on certain issues and push it out to their constituents. Meanwhile, potential voters can upload their own video responses, whether they be questions or endorsements, and the politicians can then respond in turn. In doing so, politicians are able to forge a stronger and more direct bond with their voters.
Perhaps fittingly, in a world where technology is constantly racing ahead, Flipgrid brings us back to one of America’s oldest democratic staples: the townhall.