Obama’s social media toolkit

Our colleagues in Edelman Public Affairs in Washington have pulled together a really great analysis of Obama’s social media campaign.  It takes a look at the tools used and the lessons that business can learn from his campaign.  Defiantely worth a read: http://www.edelman.com/insights/

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3D DC

It’s been a long 8 years.

Bush’s time in the Oval Office aside, the last 8 years has seen a boom online (termed clumsily as 2.0). Truly though, the internet has really come alive in terms of social networks and new media services since Bush made himself comfortable in the White House.

Rory at the BBC has posted a really interesting blog, looking at how the landscape today differs from Bush’s inauguration all those years ago.

Coolest of all?  CNN following up their election night hologram, by asking people in DC to take a photo at 12pm (EST), and email their photos in.  Then they’re going to use “Microsoft Photosynth to create what could be an extraordinary 3D image.” This is a fantastic citizen journalist stunt, where ‘old’ media mobilises people on the ground to create something totally awesome.

More info on CNN here.

More info on Photosynth here.

*Disclaimer* Microsoft is an Edelman client.

Changing profiles

Whether Labour can get its vote out will be key in deciding who is going to win the Scottish elections on Thursday. If Labour’s vote stays at home, as most expect it to do, then the polls could well be right and we’re looking at an SNP-led Executive taking power in Scotland for the next four years. If Labour’s core vote can be brought out to the polls – and moreover, persudaded to vote for Jack McConnell’s party – Labour  could make an unexpected last-minute comeback. For all parties, Labour especially, this is what all the parties will be doing as the short campaign comes to a close.

Traditional methods of door knocking and telephone canvassing – GOTV to use some politico-speak – only works so far. One new tactic, which I am especially impressed by, is the maximising of your personal web 2.0  presence to spread your political messages. Here’s a good tactic and one we’re going to see much more of: changing your facebook.com profile picture to a political message, candidate or party you support. Try browsing in Edinburgh University  for friends on Facebook, for instance, and you’ll see an incredible politicisation of profile pictures lead by Sarah Boyack’s Labour campaign and the other political force on campus, the Greens.

An interesting tactic, but more impressive is the incredible volume of ‘graffiti’ of messages and wall-posts that political themed individuals are now making. By posting on a friends’ wall, you put up a message – be it political or not – next to a picture of your chosen political message where you’re face picture would normally be. This stays on their profile until the profile’s owner deletes it. By trusting someone sufficiently to be a friend, you have to take the gamble that you trust them to comment directly on your profile for all to see. You are associated with their views and vice-versa. When you’re doing this to make a political statement rather than just social networking this becomes a more difficult equation – and one that will test the notion of ‘friendship’ online.

As a facebook-addict I changed my picture to something equally poilitical (disclaimer: I’m a Labour Party member) and I’ve already had a Liberal Democrat remove me as a friend to stop my profile picture (and its poilitical message) appearing on his pro-LibDem profile. And he won’t be the last I wager. Unusually, the LibDems have not yet adopted little ‘winning here’ logos on their profiles. Give it a few days….web 2.0 tactics cannot be ‘owned’ by one group alone….that is what makes it such a useful political resource.

By DERTyLuke; cross-posted on www.despatchblog.com and www.europedecides.com  

Online Advocacy

parliment.jpg The internet has long been heralded as the answer to voter apathy. Sadly, to date computer wizardry has largely only activated and motivated those already involved with politics further reinforcing the divide between the online haves and have nots. The elections on 3 May could be very different though as politics has really and truly come to the internet.

In the last year all the main UK political parties have launched internet-based campaign tools designed to cut through a skeptical and, sometimes, hysterical British media allowing parties to communicate their messages directly to voters. This is not a new idea. Door knocking has been doing much the same for decades. The difference here is that voters are being empowered to do something with the message once they’ve read, heard or seen it. The ‘forward’ button may allow easily communication of a link, guerrilla-marketing video clip or funny e-mail but now with the rise of social media sites people, genuine random folk not just politicos, can get closer to those aspiring to represent them than ever before.

The Conservative leader’s WebCameron video blog is a good example of how to cut through the media filter and the facility to take questions from the public is a neat feature. His almost daily uploads are designed to help people build up an idea of the family man and the motivations behind his policies (to be announced, of course). The Labour Party was a late entry into the foray with its tie up with YouTube, LabourVision, but is making some headway. RSS feeds from these sites and updates now mean people who want these videos delivered into their inbox can have them instantly. No messy leaflets, tramping the streets, no stamps, no letters and no barking dogs and entry-controlled doors. This is the new politics in action.

Perhaps the biggest phenomenon is not new ways to deliver messages but new ways to organize politically. University campuses across Britain and the US have long been using social media sites like Facebook and MySpacepages to leverage campaigns for student union elections – but so are mainstream politicians. Pursuing a social media option is not just a simple matter of uploading a flash website, sitting back, and watching your hit count grow, it must mean a genuine interaction and conversation with voters. Campaigns online no longer just have supporters they have ‘friends’, people who actively associate themselves with a political message, party, campaign or personality freely and deliberately.

But as the Conservatives for Hazel Blears page on Facebook illustrates social media campaigning can work in favour of you and against you. And can drive some superb mainstream media coverage too. It also demonstrates the increasingly asymmetrical power relationship in politics. One individual with a bit of knowledge can now have a disproportionate impact on public opinion, media coverage and perceptions. But equally, an organized campaign group can exert campaigning potential much greater than they could alone.

On Despatchblog.comI’ve been encouraging people to get involved with political campaigns on Facebook.com for some time. By the time the UK goes to the polls for the next General Election tactics deployed on Facebook www.facebook.com  for the first time in the 3 May elections won’t be innovative, they’ll come as standard. Politics is fast changing, are you keeping up?

Post by DERTyLuke