Monday, May 2, 2011

Can Using Social Media Win an Election?

          While I agree that social media would be a great asset to presidential elections, it is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of uses for social media. David Meerman Scott wrote about how President Obama utilized social media throughout his campaign in the book, “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” During Obama’s election I had no idea he had such a strong presence online. Now I feel I have to state a similar disclaimer to the one Scott wrote in his book: whether or not you voted for or supported Obama, I am relaying this information today as purely good PR, politics aside. Scott lists statistics revolving around the social media Obama’s team developed,

“According to The Nation, 13 million people signed up for the Obama campaign email list, more than 5 million “friended” Obama on Facebook, 2 million joined MyBO (and online organizing site where people could sign up to support the campaign as a volunteer), and more than 1 million people subscribed to campaign text messages on mobile phones.”

         These numbers are an impressive display. Social media has really grown to be highly influential in both business and networking. It is a great way to define who you are, lists your interests, and display groups in which you belong. Social media also stands out as a great promoter because it is free in comparison to traditional marketing tactics politicians use.

          As a relevant side note, I need to add that I HATE traditional means of elections; including voice recorded messages and commercials bashing opponents. They interrupt my day and I find myself resenting the candidate behind the message, whether or not I agree with what they are saying. A constant flooding of campaign messaging can be irritating. Social media provides a wonderful feature; by allowing individuals to “opt in,” you are ensuring the receiver wants to be actively involved in your campaign information. It is a way of making people feel like they have access to “insider-knowledge.”

           Overall, the precedent has been set in my mind, politicians cannot forget about their online publics. This is what I have gathered from reading chapter 10 in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, what do you think? Does a politician’s presence online matter? What about a lack of presence?

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