Exploring the world of social media

WEEKLY #11: My 2012 Predictions

Politics is not something I’m largely interested in, but it is something I feel responsible to take part in. Watching the 2008 presidential race certainly held my attention in a way no other campaign has.

It’s clear that the Obama campaign was well-organized, highly strategic, and utilized technology in new and innovative ways. Now that the world has witnessed the success of the Obama ’08 campaign, it’s no doubt that the run for the White House in 2010 will look to emulate various aspects of the historical election.

But winning the presidency in 2012 is not just about using technology and social media. It’s about using those tools in a strategic way that engages and motivates voters. As my Social Media professor Garrett Graff states in his book The First Campaign, “The reach and specificity of the Web have restored ‘personal’ or ‘individual’ quality to the presidential campaign.” (p. 9) Why is this important? Well, it means that presidential candidates — now more than ever — have the ability to connect with voters in a targeted and personal way. And I believe the candidate who does this best in 2012 is the person who will also win the presidency.

Edelman’s piece titled The Social Pulpit and Graff’s article in Infonomics review how the Obama campaign used social media to equip supporters with the tools and information needed to spread the campaign message, raise money, and rock the vote.

The levels of engagement were staggering. But what I find particularly interesting are the ways in which these tools encouraged a greater level of decision-making power among supporters. As The Social Pulpit notes, people were given “the opportunity to enthusiastically and authentically demonstrate their support for [the administration’s] policies.” Or in some cases, their disapproval as well.

The Obama administration has continued to engage the base of 13 million supporters it built during the presidential campaign and has solicited the network’s feedback on issues like health care and economic recovery. The most recent video from Organizing for America announced the strategy for 2010 mid-cycle elections — a strategy which incorporated supporter ideas. I think the consistent mobilization of this network long after the 2008 election is really impressive and revolutionary (so much so, I tend to save all of my Organizing for America emails as a mini-case study library).

And I think this kind of engagement is exactly the type that positions Obama well for re-election.


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