What will be key to winning the 2012 election online? I think the answer lies in both the past and the future. Traditional tactics made smarter, faster, wider-reaching through technology.
Politics is no longer only about door-knocking, bumper stickers and political rallies – how very 2000. Yet these methods can’t be discounted, according to Monte Lutz of Edelman, who writes, “Although the Obama campaign was revolutionary in some respects, it ultimately used the same tools that many campaigns had previously employed.”
Raise money, convince people of your agenda, and get them out to vote. A job for any campaign organizer, made easier if your candidate has an engaging presence and a message that resonates. These are all still the underpinnings of politics or of any persuasive campaign – and the one foot that politics will keep in the past.
The other foot will be in the future – where technology will ramp up the speed and scale of messaging, fundraising and organizing. Joe Trippi, national campaign manager for Howard Dean’s campaign, points out how much technology can change the landscape in under three years. From the last day of Dean’s campaign, he says blogging skyrocketed from over a million to 77 million, and where there was no YouTube there is now a virtual universe.
Author Garrett Graff describes how the Obama campaign essentially won $45 million dollars worth of free advertising from online videos. He writes, “All told, the campaign created nearly 2,000 YouTube videos, which in turn were watched for some 14.6 million hours.”
So what will be key to winning online in 2012? I would marry traditional tactics with growing online trends. Here are four:
- YouTube: Data from comScore shows that in January 2010 alone, nearly 173 million US internet users watched online video, an average of 93 videos each. That’s an increase of 50% from a year ago. So politicians should go where the eyeballs are, tell personal stories with real people and then ask other real people to respond with their own stories.
- Facebook: It’s the fastest-growing social network in the world and it’s growing into a powerful tool for convincing others. Social media watchers say “friend-casting” or recommendations from trusted sources like friends on Facebook is changing how people make decisions.
- Online Games: 100 million people can’t be wrong. Demographics show that all kinds of people play online games now. Game Mechanics can be inserted into just about any situation – look at FourSquare or even the way that the Obama campaign rewarded active supporters in 2008. Elections are one big competition and people want the team to recognize their efforts in helping the captain win.
- Smart Phones: Computers are getting smaller and more mobile. No longer do we even have to take our laptop to Starbucks. We can read, watch, comment, link and organize through our smart phones.
To win online in 2012 politicians should keep one eye on the rear-view mirror while driving into the future. What do you think?