Social Media & Politics

“Humans like to know about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of people, places, and situations, as well as to share this information with others, often as quickly as possible.”  – Lon Safko and David Brake in The Social Media Bible

How does the political arena see social media?  An explanation from the recent issue of Campaigns & Issues:

Down Home Digital: Minding Your Social Media

By Steve Pearson and Ford O’Connell

While everyone is trying to figure out the changing media landscape or even what to call it, we can agree that a campaign’s ability to share information online—via blogging, e-mailing, twittering, social networking, video sharing, etc.—represents a growing opportunity to shape public perception to its advantage. How much of this potential can be realized is up to the campaign. That pretty much sums up the fundamental difference between “traditional media” and “new media”—no one is waiting to receive your press release in the new media. You’re on your own.

Despite the doom and gloom headlines, the traditional media haven’t disappeared or become less important to a campaign. However, how traditional news organizations identify what to cover has changed dramatically. There are a lot fewer producers, editors, and reporters to read your press releases (if anyone was ever reading them to begin with). The new media channels available to your campaign are becoming the gateway to traditional media coverage. If reporters can see your campaign in the blogs and on social networks, it’s easier for them to believe you have a story worthy covering.

Even before the traditional media pick up your story, these new media channels have their own value— not the least important being that campaigns can more directly shape their own stories. If you’re not convinced of the value of defining the storyline, think for a moment about the scenario where your opponent uses new media to paint your campaign in an unflattering light. Without the editorial filters of traditional media, rumors and perceptions can become established “truth” and require overwhelming effort to beat them down with facts. Unlike expensive attack ads or direct mail, even the smallest campaign or interest group can create a blog or Web site to draw attention to their point of view.

The blurring of the lines between “official” news sites, established political bloggers, campaign blogs, and even individual activists with personal blogs makes it even more important for your campaign to get ahead of the 24-hour news cycle and lay the groundwork for your story in advance. When it becomes difficult for voters to distinguish between a story with fully vetted facts and a personal vendetta based on half-truths, you do not want to be playing defense. We all know how voters tend to be more receptive to news that reinforces their initial opinion. Now that the hurdle to publishing and distributing “news” has been lowered, you want to be making the first moves to lay out the path for your campaign’s story, rather than scrambling to undo a story that has already taken on a life of its own.

Unlike your personal use of blogging and social media, which for most folks just “goes with the flow,” your campaign should follow a more programmed approach. This will change over the course of the campaign as you introduce yourself, expand your network, encourage donations, and make the final push to get out the vote. Not that you need to script out every tweet from now until November, but your campaign should plan the broad themes and timing of what it wants to communicate. For example, if you are presenting the candidate as an expert on a specific issue, a regular series of blog posts supported by e-mail newsletters, Facebook posts, and Twitter alerts with links to the blog might work. If you are trying to present the candidate as connected with the everyday lives of constituents, then posting a daily photo of the candidate at breakfast or a local event with voters might be the way to go.

One thing you don’t have to worry about is repeating yourself. You see everything that goes on your Web site or Facebook page; but the voters will see only a fraction of what you publish. This isn’t television or radio where you repeat the exact same ad to hit a ratings point target, but you can come back to the same points every day. Just use different examples to illustrate the point you want to make. The easiest way to keep your message authentic and fresh is to draw from your daily campaign activities. To do this effectively, you’ll want to include your entire team in the process when thinking about how to present the candidate via social media. If the person accompanying the candidate remembers to snap the right photo, if the person organizing an event promotes it on Twitter, if the video team produces cuts for the Web, you have a better shot of pushing out information that your supporters will appreciate—and share, which, at the end of the day, is the whole point of this social media thing.

Steve Pearson is president of CivicNEXT, which provides practical networking, communications, and fundraising solutions for political campaigns and organizations. Ford O’Connell, a 2010 Rising Star, is president of ProjectVirginia, winner of the 2010 Reed Award for Best Use of Twitter and whose blog reports on “Where Politics Meets Social Media.”

The Value Of Viral

Does your man look like me?

With that question the Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice man, launched himself into history by becoming the spokesperson for the all-time most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube with 94 million views. Which is even more amazing when you consider that he looks just like me. Only I’m paler…and older..and not as fit…and I can’t ride a horse.

Old Spice also had eight of the top 11 most-popular videos on YouTube on July 16. In the six days following the start of Mr. Mustafa’s personalized videos, he reached more than 100 million followers.

The effort sent Old Spice to more than 80,000 Twitter followers (finally ahead of Mr. Mustafa’s own follower base of 30,000) and its Facebook fan base to 630,000. Facebook fan interaction jumped 800% since the launch of the personalized videos.

The ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, is well known for its creativity, and this isn’t the only home run they’ve slammed, but they obviously know how to engage people with creative content. They also did the Coke “happiness” video with a vending machine that seemed to be inhabited by real people. In a world where everyone likes to quote that, “Content is king,” they deliver on it instead of just talking about it.

The Wieden & Kennedy offices in Portland are designed for creativity, from basketball courts to an open, collaborative design. Clear Channel wouldn’t get it, and the Dickey’s would hate it. They’d cut the office design and the people who create, just to make the bottom line look better. But the Wieden & Kennedy people have another idea – product highly creative, innovative content, and put it into a channel where people gather, and you’ll make enough money to make the bottom line look better.

If I had to choose which option would take me into the future, I’d choose creativity and innovation. Whenever creativity meets shareholder value, creativity wins. When you have a company of people who understand that, you’re unstoppable.

There’s nothing casual about commitment

“If the fans don’t come out to the ball park, you can’t stop them.” – Yogi Berra

More interesting, thought provoking observations from Seth Godin:

“A good preacher ought to be able to get 70% of the people who showed up on Sunday to make a donation.

A teeny bop rock group might convert 20% of concert goers to buy a shirt or souvenir.

A great street magician can get 10% of the people who watch his show to throw a dollar in the hat.

Direct marketers used to shoot for 2% conversion from a good list, but now, that’s a long shot.

A blogger might convert 2% of readers to buy a book. (I’m aghast at this).

And a twitter user with a lot of fans will be lucky to get one out of a thousand to click a link and buy something. (.1%)

Likes, friendlies and hits are all fast-growing numbers that require little commitment. And commitment is the essence of conversion. The problem with commitment is that it’s frightening (for both sides). And so it’s easy to avoid. We just click and move on.

I think there’s a transparent wall, an ever bigger one, between digital spectators and direct interaction or transaction. The faster the train is moving, the harder it is to pay attention, open the window and do business. If all you’re doing is increasing the number of digital spectators to your work, you’re unlikely to earn the conversion you deserve.”

Your listeners may like you, and express it, but that doesn’t mean they’re committed to you enough to support you. We so enjoy hearing listeners tell us how much they like us that we mistake it for commitment. We also overlook the difference between being a committed fan and those who consider us their favorite out of a set of choices. That explains why PPM is showing that 58% of P1’s become P1 to another station in the next week. There are far fewer committed fans in your cume than you think.

Godin says “Likes, friendliest and hits (cume) are all fast-growing numbers that require little commitment.” We focus on the growth in cume as if it were the key factor. We so like hearing listeners tell us how much they like us that we mistake it for commitment. So, as long as we concentrate on our version of the digital speculators we’re really ignoring the steps that bring about conversion.

Think of it on a personal level. If I throw a party a lot of friends would come and have a good time. If I developed a drug problem and needed someone to help me to the toilet as I detox, how many would show up? Probably not as many as I’d like to think.

People who like us make up the vast proportion of our audience, but it’s fans, those who have been converted to commitment, that cause the kind of support that you require for success. Make sure you know the difference, and make sure you know how conversion comes about. All listeners aren’t created equally, and you should treat the committed ones as you would your best friends.

Spare Change

Friday’s look at some of the best of the blogs:

Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Google

Web strategist Jeremiah Oysng compares the strengths of several social media.

100 Mobile Users For Facebook.  How’s your cume?

Six months ago it was 65 million mobile users.  One reason is that they’ve developed mobile apps that specifically address the needs of the mobile user, instead of forcing them to use a tiny version of their web site.

Android Continues To Grow

Palm lost share, and the The Android system doubled it’s share.  Now Mediapost tells us it’s just five times smaller than the iPhone share.

3 Ways To Beat Email Fatigue

ll this “connection” can have a downside if we’re not careful.  Marketing Vox gives us three ways to overcome the growing resistance.

Navigation Gets Smarter

Navigation apps for your phone are starting to not only become better, but more social.  They’re connecting to Facebook and and Twitter, showing their current location as they drive along.  Soon you’ll be able to see your friends as the pass you.

Have a great weekend.

Spare Change

A weekly roundup of out of the box and out of the industry changes you can put to work at your station.

Strategy From The Fox Network

An interesting twist at the end of Fringe last week. It promoted the show that was the winter end. Not the season end, like we’re used to, but the winter end. More new shows coming up right away. That’s because Fox While the big three networks are playing reruns, Fox is developing new “content.” A bold and strategic move to answer frustration and give people what they want.

Coke’s Digital and Viral Strategy

Right on the heels of their YouTube video of the generous Coke machine in the college comes the Simpsons for Facebook. The brand channel outlines the strategy that Coke hopes will stretch their lead in the soft drink wars. Very funny video on this link too.

Does Your Strategy Include involvement?

A brand is now synonymous with an experience. Not surprisingly, the single largest determinant of brand experience is an organizations employees. Does that scare you, or elate you? Brand channel also offers this white paper about the magic of involvement. (It should download to your computer.)

A Conversation Strategy

Wow! There’s a “Conversation Agent.” It’s Valeria Baltoni, and in this post she shows how some of the best in the business bring an online conversation to life – automatically.

Viral Isn’t What A Marketing Campaign Is, But How that Campaign Spreads

Ivan Askwith talks strategy, viral, and keeping your customers and the center of the brand experience. In other words, it’s not about you.

Integrating Word Of Mouth Into Your Marketing

Molly Flatt is another person with a great title, “WOM Evangelist.” It’s amazing how many new media people have found religion. Anyway, our last piece of spare change this week gives some great tips on how to make WOM (that’s Word Of Mouth) more a part of your station.

I’ll put this out each Friday, with the hope you’ll have some spare minutes on the weekend to look at the articles. Please feel free to comment…or just talk back.