Week 9

As learned last week, Howard Dean was the first to implement the Internet / social media tools in his political campaign.  On the other hand, Obama was the first to begin to understand the medium more comprehensively, and skillfully navigate the potential pitfalls of social media tools in order to more successfully maximize the strengths of such media.

Geuorguieva explains that social networking sites, such as YouTube and MySpace, afford slightly different functions, but overall they offer political campaign’s both positive and negatives.  The collective positives cited include: increased candidate exposure / political advertising at little to no cost, wide reach for volunteer recruitment, provide a platform for the lesser known / unknown candidate, foster voter registration and fundraising.  The collective negatives cited include: compromised control over campaign and candidate image, as the content is user generated and unregulated.  Overall, Geuorguieva is wary of the use of social media tools, as their use can go poorly.

Slotnick discusses the powerful impact of MySpace and Facebook (concentrating on Facebook) when used in a savvy manner.  The Obama campaign and MyBarackObama (a Facebook-like SNS off-shoot) is cited as being a highly successful social media campaign because Obama balanced personal and political information / communication. He created a platform for his like-minded supporters to connect and explore his campaign on all levels. He took into account the characteristics of his audience, and appropriately and authentically communicated with them.  Obama understood how interactive online messaging could potentially lead to offline action and support.

When examining the arguments presented by Geuorguieva and Slotnick, it seems as though my position is supported.  Obama navigated around the inherent social media dangers, and as we learned earlier, Dean did not, while capitalizing on to the strengths provided by social media tools.

However, was Obama actually successful (Slotnick suggests Obama was a golden boy), or was he merely relatively triumphant in the face of Howard Dean’s failure?  What potential and significant improvements / alterations would you suggest to the next candidate looking to use social media tools?

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