Main Street One CEO Curtis Hougland on the launch of a senior political influencer network
“Despite all of the discourse about turning out the youth vote and ‘Will millennials turn out?’, elections are generally decided by seniors,” says Main Street One Founder-CEO Curtis Hougland. “Fifty-five-plus—that’s who votes.”
That reality is why Hougland’s influential New York-based political strategy and communications shop is launching the first-ever network of senior content creators and social influencers—a 600,000-member progressive “digital army,” as he calls it, ready for “deployment in political and social cause campaigns,” as well as for market-testing and message-amplification for major brands.
Hougland talks about the mechanics of Main Street One’s senior digital network in the latest edition of Ad Age’s “Ad Lib” podcast—which is presented in partnership with Ad Age’s ongoing Campaign Trail vertical—and explains the rationale behind inviting mature netizens to speak for themselves, among themselves. When campaigns and brands attempt to engage with 55+ consumers online, he notes, “When you look at who makes those messages and content, it is often a, you know, 27-year-old person at a digital agency.”
Main Street One’s core philosophy when it comes to digital messaging, says Hougland, is trust: “There is a massive erosion of trust among consumers today. They don’t trust government. They don’t trust the media in the same way. They don’t trust advertising and brands in the same way. So ultimately, as a brand, you’re somewhat limited in what you can say as well. So you need to find third parties. You need to find advocates, you need to find supporters—whether those are employees, former employees, content creators, social influencers ... But you need to find messengers.”
In his “Ad Lib” interview, Hougland talks about how he came to found Main Street One after a career in the digital trenches, doing everything from early social media marketing to consulting for the Pentagon on combating disinformation online—specifically ISIS and Russian propaganda.
Hougland also deconstructs digital messaging in the current political cycle, saying that “Democrats are too precious” and prone to “risk-aversion” on social media, which “really limits our ability to be candid, authentic and honest.” In contrast, President Trump obviously has no filter, which not only pleases his base but keeps them endlessly engaged. “Volume wins,” Hougland says. “Donald Trump knows this, and brands increasingly are realizing this ... The more breadcrumbs you have on the internet ... the better your sales are doing, or the more likely you are to win an election.”
Speaking of which, Hougland has some thoughts about what happens on Election Day 2020—and in the aftermath. Stream the “Ad Lib” podcast embedded above to get the full scoop.