The United States of Social Media
By Daniel Heap
I recently attended a panel discussion, hosted by NYU’s Graphic Communication Management & Technology Program, about the impact that social media will have on the 2012 election. The event was moderated by Mashable’s US and World Reporter Alex Fitzpatrick, and had the following panelists:
- Nick Troiano, National Campus Director for the American Elect party.
- Kim Moscaritolo, President, Manhattan Young Democrats
- Keya Dannenbaum, Founder/CEO of ElectNext
- Jeffrey Mack, Founder of MATTEO, an agency focused on digital strategy for political leaders
It is no doubt that Obama’s success in 2008 can be attributed in part to his adroit activation of social media. His digital strategy was, and continues to be, comprehensive. It is something that many brands should take note of.
What new things should we expect to see from him in 2012, and how are other candidates making use of social media in their campaigns?
1.) A BETTER BALLOT BOX…
“There is a lot of pain and a lot of money, which equals opportunity,” said Keya Dannenbaum, the founder of ElectNext. Her own company is a self-described “eharmony for voters” that can match your values and stances to the candidate of your dreams. She explained that $10 billion will be spent on the presidential campaigns, inspiring other entrepreneurs to vie for a piece of that pie. Some of these new startups include NationBuilder, a CRM for candidates to manage their campaigns, and Votizen, a Facebook for voters.
Jeffrey Mack brought up the idea of a candidate distributing an app to help voters understand taxes. No one understands taxes, and if an app is useful to someone’s day-to-day life, the candidate has made a true connection.
Obama is not sitting on his online laurels, and we will see an even greater digital strategy in 2012. For example, the president has Project Narwhal up his sleeve. Like Google’s recent move to consolidate its data across platforms to leverage big data, Narwhal will do the same with the president’s supporters, and will be supporters, information.
2.) SPEAK FREELY OR DIE
The point of utilizing a social channel is the engagement it offers. Tweeting is second nature to Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, who is said to personally respond to tweets. This is important because it makes us feel that our voice is heard in an age when most people feel disconnected from the government.
There are still plenty of candidates who are missing the target with their digital strategies. Usually, it’s because their campaign strategies and social media strategies are two separate entities, not a unified front. As a result, many candidates are using their Facebook pages like a billboard.
3.) ONE CORE MESSAGE
Besides apps and engagement, you still need a core story that can be adapted and expanded upon with each channel. There is a huge amount of passion present at the ballot box and a strategic candidate connects to the voters and makes them feel good about themselves. Obama’s use of core messages like “Hope” and “Believe,” are textbook positioning statements that any brand manager can appreciate in their ability to mold into any form of communication, social or otherwise.