I’ve been learning, working and living at the intersection of social media and political campaigns. This field has really only exploded in the last two years in the wake of Barack Obama’s success with ‘Organizing for America.’ It is new, undefined and evolving.
Social media bisects all traditional sectors of campaigns – field, finance, and communications. If used correctly, online campaigning can bring together and activate vibrant communities that would ordinarily not be reached. With an interactive social media presence, a campaign can respond to questions, connect voters with resources and develop relationships with communities. If a voter wants a lawnsign, for example, rather than emailing the firstname.lastname@example.org email, they can ask for more information on Facebook or Twitter. Then the campaign or another person can easily respond with more information. This helps develop the candidate/campaign as being responsive, aware and interested in voters concerns.
If an opponent releases a new, slandering ad, rather then taking weeks to produce a counter response, a candidate can simply use their developed online presence to quickly respond.
Press also looks to social media to follow campaign happenings. A press release is no longer the only means to communicate with reporters. Newspapers, TV news, radio shows and blogs frequently cite material taken from Facebook.
However, as always, with great power comes great responsibility. A rogue Facebook post or comment can be disastrous. Messaging needs to be clear, consistent AND honest. Communication between the differing sectors of the campaign is vital to harness the true power and results social media can provide.
Hope this provided some food for thought,