Is social media just a tool, or an essential part of future campaigns?

Social media has had a huge effect on political campaigning, as we have discussed over the course of this class.  The readings for this week focused mainly on the impact that the emergence of social media into the mass population has had on these political campaigns. The Scola reading focuses on in interesting concept, how the company Blue Digital a firm that resulted in the failure from Howard Dean’s campaign, evolved and became an essential part of Obama’s 2008 campaign. Blue Digital’s help with Obama’s campaign is so ironic, because that campaign was said to be one of the most innovative and to have capitalized most from social media use, while Dean did some of the same things, with the technology available at the time, and was obviously very unsuccessful. The reading is quite parallel to the Karpf reading, in that it emphasizes the importance of strategic success, as well as having the type of support on these social media sites, that  will translate into offline votes.

The Nielsen reading however, says some things to refute this “social media necessity” that seems imperative to winning elections today. He claims that it’s simply a tool that can enhance a campaigns success and reach, but that it’s certainly not something that should be relied on or characterized as such an essential aspect of campaigns. These two are quite different views one saying that it’s just a tool that may or may not help and the other pointing out the importance of firms lie Blue Digital, who specialize in social media, and we an integral part of one of the most successful, in terms of social media mobilization, campaigns. I think one of the major differences between the two is the acknowledgement of limitations. Companies like Blue Digital, have no intention of acknowledging the limitation of social media, like those experienced by Howard Dean, but instead, using those limitation as a platform to be more innovative and find alternate ways on social media sites to accomplish their “goals” and keep advancing. Based Nielsen’s argument he focuses on finding, recognizing and pointing out these limitations in an effort to not rely on or exxagerate the role that social media can play.

Is it important for upcoming campaigns to realize the limitations of social media and in a way plan for alternate ways to reach the masses, even though social media is such a big part of society? Or is it better to move with the emerging trend of social media, as it seems most of the world is doing?

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