Intro / claim:
Based on the learning’s gathered from the Lutz and Steinhauer articles, I assert that whether political campaign social media strategies are elaborate or bleak, they essentially equate to little if they fail to effectively generate and engage users in productive, participatory, open two-way communication that leads to action/offline participation. Successful campaigns seem likely to be based on strong user engagement.
Lutz dissects the Obama campaign, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses. Lutz compiles a list of ten successes (strategies) from the Obama campaign that were largely due to social networking tools. Nearly each one of Lutz’s ten points involve promoting user engagement and increasing a two-way conversation with the user, with the goal to translate this online goodwill to offline campaign support. Overall, the Obama campaign employed each one of these strategies successfully which resulted in strong user-engagement, which translated successfully into offline participation, and an overall successful campaign. This supports my predisposition that successful campaigns stem from strong user engagement.
It is, however, dangerous to emphatically conclude that assembling a successful campaign is as simple and straightforward as employing these social media strategies. While these strategies were successful for the Obama campaign, we cannot conclude that they will inherently work for every candidate. Arguably, Obama was successful not only because his strategies were strong, but because his platform was highly relevant, thought provoking, revolutionary, etc., because he had a personal charisma that appealed to voters. In any case, the Obama campaign alone is not enough to draw a firm/imperial conclusion. Evidence from other campaigns is needed to support/dispel this theory.
Steinhauer concentrated on Republican’s enthusiastic use of Twitter, the strong stake they have in using the medium, and the perceived (positive) impact it will have on the 2012 presidential campaign strategies. However, at its core, Twitter isn’t a terribly user-interactive, user-engaging forum. The most users can do to communicate with the campaign is re-tweet a post or respond in in a medium that limits users to 160 characters or less.
Unlike Democrats who use Twitter to disperse their message among their supporters, Steinhauer stated twice that in the eyes of Republicans, the goal of Twitter is to produce tweets that catch / compete for attention from influential reporters or bloggers. This means that Republican’s aren’t interested in using a SNS site like Twitter to communicate and engage their supports / audience, but rather it’s a vehicle to garner media attention.
Overall, not only is Twitter a relatively weak way to communicate with one’s audience, Republican’s are hardly interested in using Twitter to engage their voter audience. This translates to relatively weak offline participation among voters. Based on theoretical extrapolating, my claim holds true that weak campaigns fail to successfully promote user engagement.
Steinhauer describes Republican’s use of Twitter such that they do not see strong benefits from communicating with their supporters via social networking sites. On the other hand, Lutz argues that the ten successes of the Obama campaign’s social media strategy were each essentially rooted in driving user-engagement and conversation. To what degree do you believe strategies involving promoting and engaging users in conversation via social media tools plays into the success of a political campaign? If they have little effect, why is this? If strong, what strategy not yet discussed would you implement that might potentially promote user-engagement on social networking sites for political campaigns?
Layne Steele Paddon