Interview with Kevin Le, CEO of Social Media Campaign "ImagineBernie"

Interview with Kevin Le, CEO of Social Media Campaign "ImagineBernie"

The future of political campaigning in a youth-oriented world
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How did you get involved in social media campaigning for Bernie?

I started as a member of the Bernie Connect team, a small team of engineers and designers that helped launch Bernie’s official social media platform. One day, I asked my project manager, Ana Jamborcic, if we had ever utilized user testing on the website before. I discovered that type of system didn’t exist yet, so I decided to gather as many people as possible to help promote the site and conduct a user survey in almost every pro-Bernie Facebook group across the country. In one week I received over 200 responses, not only from each US state, but also from other countries! With this organized group in place, we can raise awareness about Bernie’s policies in powerful ways. We will be finishing up our work for the Bernie Connect team this week and are starting to advocate for Bernie through our ImagineBernie Facebook posts.

What work are you doing with your data analysis for Bernie Connect?

We are analyzing user feedback data on the website. Users answer questions like, “Is there anything you need from the campaign in order to become more involved?” and, “What do you wish was on Connect that isn’t there now?” All of us at ImagineBernie are tasked with analyzing the huge amounts of responses we get from the survey and writing a general report about these responses. We’ll be sending our report to the Bernie Connect team so they can decide what to do with the website moving forward. We’re doing the grunt work, I’d say!

What sort of work do your volunteers do on a daily basis?

The first week was spent supporting the Bernie Connect team by promoting their website and survey to numerous pro-Bernie groups in every state. We want to bring more people to the site and have them start using it because it has many useful resources which supporters can use on a day-to-day basis. Our volunteers are currently helping analyze the survey data that we’ve received over this last week of promotion. After we’ve fully analyzed and understood what the majority of people want from the Bernie Connect platform, we’ll be sending a report to the site’s engineers so that they can further improve the site. Other work in our organization includes photography, videography, and web development! We are implementing “Humans of New York”-style posts on our Facebook page along with other media that we believe everyone should view. As our photographers interview more Bernie supporters, they will post their content on our page. Our videographers are hard at work creating promotional videos for ImagineBernie and are reaching out to local members of the community to participate in interviews and talk about Bernie and his policies. Our web developers are working to build onto our website to include useful features not apparent on Bernie Connect.

What can individuals who do not have time to volunteer do to help spread the word and garner support?

They can come to us. Those who can’t attend organized phone banking sessions or canvas in person can get involved through ImagineBernie. There are quite a lot of supporters who want to do something else apart from those activities, and we provide them with the tools necessary to do exactly that.

How do you move people from simply liking content on social media to becoming directly involved in the campaign (or spin-offs like yours) or get out and vote?

Social media is great for sharing Bernie’s ideas, and when people hear the message, enthusiasm inevitably increases. That helps voter turnout and involvement. For example, we went from 40,000 to 300,000 people reached through our Facebook posts overnight last week! Aside from these benefits, social media is also directly practical: it provides information that people might not otherwise realize they needed, such as details on caucusing, the Bernie Dialer phone bank system, and debate schedules. Most significantly, we show how important it is for any and every Bernie supporter to vote, because it can certainly be an uphill battle going up against a political powerhouse like Hillary Clinton. Bernie is considered “behind” right now, despite having earned 51 pledged delegates to Hillary’s 52, which is undoubtedly indicative of a tight race; however, with Hillary having recently received an endorsement from Harry Reid and taken two states so far, it’s clear that we have to work harder than ever to push ahead. We want to get the message across that what Hillary has in establishment support, we have in numbers and enthusiasm. But if Bernie’s supporters, especially the youth, don’t get out and vote, then all of our online support will have been fruitless. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?

What kind of content do you see being the most persuasive?

Content that people can connect with their personal lives is the strongest. This is why Bernie has such a large support from youth. He’s able to connect with what we care about and demonstrate his plans on solving significant problems facing youth today--global warming, social inequality, college debt, earning living wages, etc.

What sort of supporters are you hoping to garner online? Is there hope for grabbing more than just millennials?

Bernie has an incredibly diverse supporter base. We hope to involve all types of supporters in ImagineBernie. In addition to Americans, we also involve international supporters. We have an international team, headed by Brendan Zerafa of Malta, which consists of about 50 people in countries around the world who are helping us spread Bernie’s message. In our organization, we aim to reflect the diverse range of supporters that Bernie has. Our group of officers represents a wide range of ages, races, and backgrounds. We hope that the diversity of Bernie supporters in our organization, equally split between men and women, will best meet the needs and desires of all supporters while reaching out to new demographics.

How else do you reach out to potential supporters? Have you branched out to other media sites besides Facebook?

Yes! ImagineBernie uses Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Medium, and, of course, good ol’ word of mouth.

Do you participate in geo-targeting cities with lacking support for Bernie?

Yes! We geo-target not only cities, but whole states that lack support for Bernie, such as Wyoming.

Do you find it interesting that the oldest candidate in the race is effectively utilizing social media in ways similar to Obama in 2008 and 2012?

Yeah, totally! Except that this time, a lot more youth are getting involved. Bernie is winning the majority of the youth vote, largely due to how easy it is to inform the younger generations about him using social media. We’re already showing others how social media can impact voters’ decisions and perspectives on certain candidates.

How does having a Democratic superdelegate (from Bernie's own district, no less) on your Board of Advisors change your business model?

I wouldn’t consider this a “business,” even though we use certain titles like CEO, CIO, CTO. Those are used to denote our responsibilities in our organization! Just like how we have the majority of our managing team labeled as officers on our website. We are a purely grassroots movement by the people for the people. It still amazes me how powerful it is to use social media to unite people all over the world for a common goal.

The support of Democratic superdelegate Richard T. Cassidy has proven extremely valuable. Board of Advisors members like Cassidy provide our grassroots organization of ordinary citizens with an important expert perspective. Gaining the support of such an influential person gives us hope for directly involving even more political figures in our cause. We are confident that, in the future, many others will join him in standing beside Bernie.

How do you hope to expand with new powerhouse supporters such as the aforementioned superdelegate?

I’m currently reaching out to many delegates and superdelegates across the United States and trying to gain their support. Our team is also trying to reach out to celebrities in the entertainment industry who support Bernie.

What do you see as the future for Imagine Bernie?

As the election goes on, our organization will continue to support Bernie in any way we can. Whether it be through social media pushes on primary dates, doing further analytical work for the official Bernie campaign, raising awareness of matters that are important to supporters, or working on one of the many other issues that will present itself over the course of the election season, ImagineBernie will be up to the challenge. By unifying people from across the world whose talents range from programming to public relations, we have created an organization that will adapt to the changing election.

Despite our huge momentum, there’s still a possibility that Hillary could win the Democratic nomination. If that happens, do we support her? If so, how do we go about this? What if we want to turn into an independent news organization or some other type of politics-oriented group? There are many possibilities in our future. I don’t have an answer to that at this time, but it shouldn’t be a focus for us yet. Right now, our primary aim is to get Bernie into the White House.

We hope to expand ImagineBernie’s reach to all audiences across the United States and the world. We want to show everyone that, no matter your race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, ability, or religion—whoever you are—Bernie will fight for you. When the people come together to support a candidate who will work to secure a better future for all Americans, we all win. As Bernie famously said, “Not me. Us.”

We'd also like to give credit to our wonderful officers/web developers and their contributions to the team!

They are: Chul Kwon, Brendan Zerafa, Andy Kamath, Kieran Jarrett-Mann, Favour Nerrise, Elaine Lau, Sameer Khoja, Nicole Flokos, Max Goldberg, Zoe Sayler, Rory Slattery, Lucas Rodriguez, Iziah Thompson, Ariana Pooley, Adam Schilperoort, Jennifer Rae Pierce, Emma Schmitt, Dijah Mac, Christopher Bears, Samanta Honigman, Cheryl Claypoole, and Jessica Bocchini.


Cover Image Credit: ImagineBernie

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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