Drew Daniel – Week 10

In the piece written by Jennifer Steinhauer she touches on how Twitter is changing how politicians communicate with their audience and the speed with which it can be done now. The Obama campaign capitalized on social media in 2008 and the democrats in general were the first to effectively use Twitter as a vehicle for communication, but now Republicans are catching up. In terms of numbers (or followers) Republicans actually now have double what their Democratic counter parts have and on top of that their followers are consistently more active. A major change Twitter has brought is the difference in the time lag of messages. What used to take a day or two with TV spots, email, or mailing lists to fight policies or argue a topic takes no more than a couple minutes with Twitter. As soon as something is said, it can be researched for consistency or accuracy, and rebutted on twitter in less than a few minutes. Both parties have staff specifically to focus on social media and as Steinhauer asserts campaigns and politics will continue to migrate in the direction of more use and integration of social media such as Twitter.

The Lutz reading takes a critical look at the ways Obama integrated social media and online advocacy into his very successful 2008 campaign. He contends that essentially where previously Dean, McCain, and Bush were successful Obama used those same strategies, but in areas they weren’t successful the Obama campaign learned from it and made it successful for them. Some of the interesting strategies they used were gaining support through mobile devices and ensuring that people find the content you want them to find. The cost facts and percentage of read texts versus read email and costs of traditional phone banking or door-to-door work is worthy tactic to note. Also creating URL’s that appear at top of search engines seems like a common sense tactic, but releasing positive videos to combat critical videos is a very smart move. By tagging a video with the same tags as a video that is critical of Obama, the campaign ensures that people who watch something negative about the candidate are given a chance to see something that refutes the information they just saw.

The theme of both of these readings is that campaigns are going to continue to learn from one another and migrate towards more and more use of social media. The key that the successes of Obama’s campaign versus the failures of others is that for social media to work for a candidate is that it must be intertwined and integrated with all the offline work as well. My question for the class is that with both parties now having full time staffs dedicated to social media will we come to the point of overkill where social media presence will end up doing more harm than good?

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2 Responses to Drew Daniel – Week 10

  1. karensaukas says:

    Your question on whether there will be negative social media overkill is an interesting one. Social media mostly reconfirms the notions of partisan citizenst. For instance, you don’t see many posts on facebook about Republican candidates or policies if you declare yourself as a democrat and have mostly left-wing friends as well. This is where Pariser’s argument about the filter bubble that the Web has become not being good for democracy. You only see your point of view and not alternative information. If you are partisan then negative social media about your candidate or party can easily be attributed to critical media dissemination by the opposition party and positive coverage seems to reinforce your stance. Therefore, although candidates are using social media more to grow and improve there campaigns, there will not be a point where there is social media overkill for those who are partisan. Social media overkill does have the potential to turn off those who don’t identify with a political party because with so much positive and negative coverage on each candidate or party it may be hard to find the truth among instant updates and blogging.

  2. benjhalp says:

    Your post does a good job of outlining how political parties are continually adapting to the developing online social media platforms that are becoming increasingly important in campaigns. In addition, I agree with your notion that social media overkill is possible for those that are non-partisan. However, I see that as unlikely. As easy as it has become to join these social networks, one can un-subscribe or avoid them. Additionally, non-partisan citizens might be interested in seeing the constant updates to gain further insight as to the social media patterns of the candidate, with the potential of becoming a supporter. As Drew stated, those that are already supporters are not worried about over-exposure. Because citizens can choose what forms of social media to follow, and the campaigns have to simultaneously target different level of supporters who want different amounts of content, it is better to have more content than less. In this instance, people will have the choice of how they want to follow the candidate. At the same time, however, many users would not have the wherewithal to cancel certain services. Such a dilemma demonstrates how the use of social media in campaigns and politics is an ever-changing and dynamic field.

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