Tag Archives: Presidential Election

Losing the Forest for the Trees

TechPresident was out with a great article last month which analyzed how the presidential campaigns have leveraged social media thus far in 2012. The author points out that they’ve drilled into micro-targeting, data mining, and hyper-segmentation. Where once campaigns focused on “white women over 65,” now they are after “the middle child who likes Jay-Z, studied philosophy, plays trombone and tweets about Mad Men.” It’s an extreme, but just barely. The author draws three conclusions from this new approach.

First, too much of the mainstream political media coverage of tech’s role in the campaign falls for the digital candy

Second, compared to 2004 or 2008, in 2012 the relative balance of power between campaigns and voters–in terms of how they use interactive communications technologies to influence the course of the election, has subtly but substantially shifted back toward the campaigns.

Third, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are deeply and quietly invested in plugging into their supporters’ social networks, a process I called “Facebookization.” Unlike four years ago, when we saw a flowering of user-generated Facebook groups (led by the “Million Strong for Obama”), here the game is all about the campaigns’ ability to access their supporters’ social graph, mine them for insights and then presumably make sophisticated and targeted use of word-of-mouth networks.

The big campaigns are fine tuning their message to make sure it gets in front of the right people. They’ve mistaken powerful tools  as sources of information instead of as new mediums for conversation. Here at Voters Act, we feel that the new approach misses the point. Social media isn’t about targeting people more effectively – voters have proven that they’re increasingly unaffected by political messaging – instead, social media is about giving your supporters a narrative worth sharing. While the current strategy reaches ever-deeper into our online information, social media’s real strength allow unparalleled outreach so that your supporters can tell their friends why you should be elected.

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