You Win Some, You Lose Some

The readings for this week do a great job of explaining the ways in which President Obama used the internet and social media to enhance his campaign and ultimately win the presidency. By comparing these readings to last week’s reading on Howard Dean, it is clear that strategy, especially in a networked public sphere (Kreiss, 2010), is extremely important in a successful campaign. The question, however, is can all internet campaigns be successful if they use Obama’s techniques?

In the Slotnick and Lutz readings, we see an “inside look” at the Obama campaign, in a similar way that we saw in Dean’s campaign, from Trippi. Lutz relates Obama to Dean when he explains that Obama was not the first pioneer of the internet campaign, but more importantly, he was the first to create votes from online donors AND channel online fervor into ground support (Lutz, 2009). Obama did in fact succeed in both of these realms, something that Howard Dean was unable to do, which played a large factor in Obama winning the election. Just as we read Trippi’s advice on creating internet support in Dean’s campaign, Lutz also gives us ten points that the Obama campaign capitalized on. One important point that Lutz states is, “harnessing analytics to constantly improve engagement activities” (Lutz, 2009). If the Dean campaign had used a similar strategy and tracked the success of emails, etc., then they may have been more successful in generating actual votes like Obama.

It is clear as to why Obama’s campaign was better than Dean’s, and although I’ve made suggestions on Dean’s campaign, can Obama’s strategy really work for everyone? In Gueorguieva’s reading, “Voters, MySpace, and YouTube,” the issue of not having enough people to manage the internet sites is addressed. Just as the Dean campaign needed more help, any campaign has the potential to fall into the same trap. Even if the campaign strategy is working, if there is no one to run the sites, then support will fall. Obama’s strategies seem beneficial, but there are so many factors that can effect a campaign that Obama’s strategies may not work all the time. Is there any way to improve on Obama’s strategies from Lutz? Will the campaign still be affective if you are missing one of the ten points? How can politicians be more creative with social media campaigning after it has been around for almost ten years?

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3 Responses to You Win Some, You Lose Some

  1. erikpeulicke says:

    I think your last question is very interesting, and I’m not sure anyone can be sure of what candidates will have to deal with in ten years. With the fast rate of change in the social media landscape, campaigns are as vulnerable to mistakes as Howard Dean was. For example, Slotnick notes the differences and changes in candidates’ Facebook pages. As candidates learn more about a specific outlet, they make drastic changes in their profiles. Different outlets will continue to introduce themselves, restarting the learning curve for political candidates.

    Until the social media landscape stabilizes, I don’t think creativity will decrease. In fact, we may see an increase in social media campaigning as sites, applications, and outlets continue to develop.

  2. gkornblau says:

    In comparing the social media strategies of Dean with those of Obama, it is easy to make the claim that Obama’s social media campaign was more successful. However, I think that it is important to consider the ways in which our relationship with social media and the Internet has changed between the two elections, and how it will continue to evolve. While Obama’s strategy was impressive and clearly beneficial to his campaign, the increased level of comfort that people felt towards social media influenced the success of Obama’s social media driven campaign. I think that much of Dean’s lack of success was due to the fact that his audience didn’t know how to use social media the way they did during the Obama campaign and the way they do now.

    Since society and technology are ever-changing, people will always innovate and develop new ways to use the Internet and social media for political causes. Rather than focusing on whether these new campaigns maintain the 10 points, we should analyze the new ways in which people are relating to social media, the Internet, and their environment.

  3. Neha says:

    I agree with Gaby and very much think that Obama’s success parallels the nature of social media in today’s media environment. I think it is fair to say that Dean was successful in his endeavors to a particular extent, and did what he could given the new-nature of social media and its tactics. Obama definitely used what he learned from Dean’s campaign and took it further, but I think it is important to realize that whoever uses social media in the future will probably be even more successful than Obama because they and citizens will have an even further defined relationship with social media. So to answer your question, I think that politicians in the future will be as creative as the social media environment in the future allows them to be.

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