Brad Parscale, digital director for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, speaks at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 3, 2016.
Albin Lohr-Jones | Pool via Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tech Transformers

How I helped get Trump elected: The president’s digital guru

Key Points
  • Brad Parscale credits Facebook and a "great product" in Donald Trump
  • He said social media platforms queued up to help the Trump campaign, wanting a share of its $100 million advertising budget

The digital director of Donald Trump's presidential election campaign has revealed how he helped get the businessman elected.

Brad Parscale, a man who's been described as "the genius who won Trump's campaign," by The Washington Post, said that Facebook had helped spread Trump's message to voters.

Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday, Parscale said that his background in advertising and marketing helped him see that Trump was a "great product" who was easy to promote to the American public.

"I think I had come from a consumer world for a long time and America and eyeballs were moving to social media in huge numbers, especially on mobile phones and devices. And when Donald Trump asked me to work on the campaign I also knew I had a great piece of product that would resonate with Americans," he said.

"You want a great product, you want things that resonate with people and make them dance."

The election of Trump to the U.S. presidency a year ago was largely credited to an internet campaign led by Parscale that utilized social media platforms such as Facebook to spread his political views, a strategy first employed with success by his predecessor Barack Obama.

In October, Parscale credited Facebook with helping to fuel Trump's win last November, saying during an interview with CBS News that the Trump campaign had Facebook employees "embedded inside our offices" to explain how to use the platform to target voters. Facebook said in a statement that it had offered both the Trump and Clinton campaigns "identical support."

How Facebook helped

Parscale said Wednesday that the Facebook campaign had enabled Trump to "raise a lot of money" from grassroots supporters — up to $280 million, he said. But, in turn, a lot of money had been spent on advertising on the social media platform, allowing the Trump campaign to compete with Hillary Clinton's Democratic campaign.

"When Donald Trump became the (Republican) candidate we didn't have any money other than Mr Trump's money and I don't think he wanted to write that check all himself… We needed to create a grassroots campaign and we needed to go out and find millions of people to be our supporters and Facebook allowed us to do that in alarming numbers, very fast," Parscale said.

Brad Parscale: Trump team used Facebook to help win the White House

He said social media platforms queued up to help the Trump campaign, wanting a share of its advertising spending: "If you're going to spend $100 million on social media, a lot of people show up at your office wanting to help you spend that money on their platforms, so Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google — they were all wanting to have that money."

Facebook had helped to provide advice on how best to use its platform to engage with a wider audience, Parscale said: "They have lots of products, they're a very big company and said, 'Please educate me and my staff in everything that you can,'" something he claimed the Hillary Clinton campaign had not taken advantage of.

Parscale's interview at the Web Summit came a day after the Republican party was dealt a blow Tuesday, when Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the race for governor of Virginia, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie. Parscale responded to the Democrat victory by saying there were "always ebbs and flows" in politics and that he thought "the Republican Party is in a great place for 2018 and I think Americans will continue to support the Trump agenda."

Asked whether Trump had let down voters by not following through on some of his promises, such as a pledge to fix infrastructure in the U.S., Parscale said Trump had "three more years to fix infrastructure" and that he wasn't disappointed in his presidency so far.

"I think he's done a ton, I think he's done more than any other U.S. president we've had in a long time. Right now he's focused on tax reform and that's a thing to put more money in the pockets of middle-class Americans and that's what they want," he said.