Week 10

It is safe to say that the relationship between technology and societal adaption lives in a perpetual state of flux.  One way that we are able to see this trend is through the changes that occur within political campaigns over time.  When an election takes place, enough time has passed between the last major campaign in the sense that what may have been a novel strategy then is now considered to be standard practice.  From the Nielsen reading and the piece on Blue State Digital, it is apparent that what is expected from campaigns is to be looking forward and backward at the same time; relying on typical media strategies but also being proactive about utilizing emerging technologies.

Nielsen’s reading echoed one of the main points that Shirky emphasized, which is that technology does not become socially interesting until it is technologically boring.  These ‘mundane’ internet tools, such as email, are much more of a necessity than ’emerging tools’, like social media, or ‘specialized tools’, like campaign websites in gathering citizens to mobilize efforts and actually get involved.  We see the differences between those who have held office longer being less likely to care about social media strategies than those who have only held their position for a short period of time because they simply don’t see a need.  The way that social media efforts aid in the political campaign strategies are by appealing to more media savvy voters who are looking for their candidates to be where they are online.  In this way, focusing on emerging tools may get your message out there but will not necessarily lead people to take action and get involved.  It is through the now traditional methods, such as emailing volunteers directly, that get the results in activism that candidates are typically looking for.  However, email was once considered an emerging tool itself, reflecting the change in how technology is used over time and makes a case that candidates simply are unable to ignore the new, progressive tools that are constantly growing in popularity.

One example of a firm taking advantage of this mindset is Blue State Digital.  With the success of the Obama campaign, they have proven that such adaptive strategies can produce results.  The firm stresses how they work to incorporate social media into their traditional marketing and public relations work in order to reach broader audiences.  Their success in politics has allowed to them take this same approach into other areas of work, including entertainment and non-profit campaigns.  In doing so, they are helping to shape the overarching cultural trends that perpetuates use and reliance on social media in all aspects of society.  This, in itself, fuels the transformation of such emerging tools in allowing them to eventually become mundane.

Do you believe that social media outlets, such as Facebook, are now considered ‘mundane’ or are they still emerging?  What other technologies have been adapted since the 2008 election to the point where they are no longer optional for strategic use?  As the internet stands currently, which tools may be considered emerging for the coming 2012 election (ex: Pinterest)?

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6 Responses to Week 10

  1. kcarney91 says:

    Social media outlets still have a lot of developing to do technology wise and in the demographics of users for the medium to be considered mundane. The technology is still developing and is at the whim of what the website creators decide to do and campaigns need to adapt to these changes to make social networking sites profitable for their cause or candidate. There also needs to be an overload of who uses social media in order for it to be profitable for campaigns to rely on it more than email. Pretty much everyone who uses the Internet has email capabilities whereas only younger demographics typically use social media, limiting the reach of campaigns that only rely on the medium. I would say that social media are probably the foremost emerging tools that can be used effectively in the 2012 campaign. In the future, I predict that Pinterest will be a great way for candidates to express their interests and views as well as a way for voters to interact with candidates via their board.

  2. I do think that overtime social media outlets, such as Facebook, are going to become mundane. As the readings this week have shown us, email was a very exciting technology at some point, when it first began. Now, however, email is strictly used for business and busy work purposes, as it has so clearly been useful in capturing supporters of campaigns by allowing people to participate easily an efficiently in their everyday lives. Facebook, while not yet, I believe will slowly get to this point, as corporate organizations are starting to use it for business purposes, in addition to pleasure and pastime. I believe as newer technology comes about, such as Pinterest, the older social media platforms will recycle and take a back seat.

  3. tommyotoole says:

    I think that different forms of social media will emerge in the future political atmosphere, but I think that they will take on different roles. Not all of the platforms will be good at doing ‘everything’ for a campaign, but they will serve different purposes and all become essential to the entire ‘digital campaign.’ I thought it was very interesting that Lauren Miller emphasized the importance of e-mail to the Obama campaign, because I feel like most people would say that Facebook yielded the most results. Facebook may have been essential in grassroots promoting, organization, and discussion, but the e-mail raised the money. I think Twitter will help to deliver campaign news, reminders, information on voting, the race, etc., and other platforms may emerge, but I am not sure that any of them will take a ‘back seat’ to others. They, in my opinion, will just take on different roles, all with some importance to the campaign.

  4. kbyrd23 says:

    I think that reddit is a great emerging social media website that can be used for campaigning. They have a feature called ask me anything (AmA) where celebrities, politicians, and everyday people can submit their stories and the users of the reddit community can ask them questions. Many congressman have done AmAs with great success. In this forum the politician is forced to answer the top voted questions which are often controversial. I feel that this breaks down the hierarchy between politicians and voters and increases transparency.

    Also, information about important political issues are posted to the website and the users can provide uniques insights on the issues that aren’t discussed in the mainstream media. I believe that these insights foster more diverse thinking which could lead to a more informed public. Also users on the site are politically informed and are more motivated to take political action. Because of the format of the site and the strength of the community, I think that it could be a very powerful tool in campaigning.

  5. christinab3 says:

    I think there are several social media sites that could be used as emerging tools for the 2012 presidential campaign. To me, some of the most interesting ones that were mentioned in class is Spotify and Tumblr. I never really thought about how an “Obama Playlist” might be useful for a political campaign, but now I can definitely see some possibility. I don’t believe having an Obama Playlist will do anything to convince undecided voters or convert Republicans to Democrats, but musical playlists have the potential to strengthen support amongst his current supporters. Perhaps bringing a presidential candidate into the musical environment will further cement the candidate as an important part of a voter’s life and surround them will the candidate’s message and presence even more.

  6. smisarah says:

    Maybe it’s the social media geek in me, but I’d argue that Facebook has become mundane – perhaps it’s not as old-hat as email or web pages are for older generations, but for our generation I think it is. While not all candidates are very sophisticated with social media (or “emerging” tools), it’s basically mandatory that they have Facebook and Twitter accounts now. And while it might not be THE most effective method of raising money/getting volunteers/etc., it’s certainly doing a lot more now than it did in 2008, when the Nielsenetal research was conducted. He argues that during the congressional campaigns, the only people who joined Facebook groups were already campaign volunteers, which isn’t true at all anymore. Facebook and Twitter offer different tiers of engagement now, making them meaningful for both the average voter and the super-political. Lastly, a quick note on Pinterest – I’m not sure that I see it being successful for a political campaign. I know it’s all the rage now for brands, but as a user, I think part of the appeal of the Pinterest userface is that there aren’t any ads, so I’m not spammed by commercial messages all the time. Granted, no one would be forced to follow a political candidate’s boards, but I still think it’s a weird idea. What would a candidate pin that anyone would want to repin?

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