Posts Tagged Mashable

Online and offline integration: there is no baseline

In a world where “there is no baseline,” Year One of Organizing for America tries to provide an aerial view of the activities of the group that formed out of the coalition that mobilized and elected President Obama.

The group is so large that it more or less embodies everything that a campaign can— in both the online and offline realms.  Offline, activities range from petition drives to local events and meetings, and online, activities include the extensive email list and dedicated community-building.  Communications with policy makers are encouraged both online and offline.

For the Obama campaign, digital media interaction actually did cause behavior in real life— the ultimate end-goal for most campaigns whether they aim to sell a product, encourage someone to quit smoking, watch a television show, or support an idea.  New media actual drove political action, like fundraising, event attendance, voter registration, and, ultimately, votes!  An effort as large is this is great because it shows the importance of tailored efforts.  For example, activities around health care were scaled back or increased depending on political action.

Despite the fact that it is an integral part of my job, I had never really stepped back to consider the importance of online and offline campaign integration.  The importance of this cannot be overstressed— not just for political campaigns, either.  It’s proven that the more times people see a message, the more likely they are to absorb it, and the more places a message lives, the more likely people are to see it more than once.  For example, Old Spice’s new advertising campaign is prevalent not only on YouTube, but on television, and I’ve also seen numerous Tweets and a few Facebook posts about it.

This concept was stressed at work this week as well— my employers’ Ogilvy Notes initiative gained much favorable coverage, including from Mashable, proving that sometimes the perfect compliment to something highly digital is something that’s about as old-fashioned as it gets.

In that light, Mobilizing Generation 2.0 was a very interesting compliment to the Organizing for America case study.  While there were some things I did not agree with (e.g., that young adults respond to traditional outreach such as phone calls at the same rates as older adults), on the whole it was a fantastic look at the lives of the newest voters— of which I am a part.  I could definitely relate to many parts of the book, seeing as I am among those who do not have a digital component to their lives, instead, digital is integrated into all of the things that I do.

The overarching theme of the book is that while new platforms are great ways to reach audiences, what’s crucial is the relationship building that these platforms allow, and thus participation in social networks requires research and strategies.  Knowing your audience is key— if you don’t know how they use a platform, how will you know how to reach them?  That’s where this book comes in handy— though it’s a bit out of date, it’s a great learning manual from Rock the Vote— an organization fully intrenched in the subject matter.

The book identifies Millennials as being politically involved, civically active, tech savvy, and influential— making them a group any organization would be remiss not to target.  What the book boils down to is: how can we activate this group ONLINE to mobilize them OFFLINE?  Through blogs, social networks, mobile phones, wikis, maps, and video and photo sharing: that’s how.

A few best practices from the book: authenticity is key — communicate like a person, not like a computer.  Know your audience and your influencers — influencers have their pulse on the audience, and have a wide, authentic reach. By reinforcing offline action with online support, Millennials can be driven to take action and can define a campaign.

Although there is no baseline— one thing is key.  Online relationships that can transition to offline interactions are extremely valuable, and learning to develop those types of relationships is key for the future of politicians, organizations, and corporations.

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Is Twitter just another place to run your mouth?

Lately, it seems that social media has converged with current events more than ever before.  But as much as the media is covering uprisings in the Middle East that are using social networks to mobilize, they are covering embarrassing gaffes by people who should know better.

For example, an employee of New Media Strategies (the workplace of a friend of mine) accidentally tweeted from the account of a client, @ChryslerAutos; “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.”  Clearly, the Tweet was meant to be sent from a personal account, but it was not deleted before some of the account’s nearly 9,000 followers retweeted the tweet— making actual deletion impossible.  The employee was fired, and the firm is enduring even more backlash, with Chrysler refusing to renew their contract.  The tweet was covered far and wide, from The New York Times to Mashable.

While the New Media Strategies/Chrysler incident was embarrassing and the employee should have never tweeted (even from a personal account) something that could be perceived so negatively by the client, clearly it was a mistake.  What’s even more damaging for reputations is when Twitter reveals that people held in high-regard are just ignorant racists.  For example, Cappie Pondexter, (@cappa23) a WNBA star with the New York Liberty tweeted that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan probably happened because “they did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less,” and stated that “What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes.”  Not only do these remarks make her look racist—they make her look just plain stupid and insensitive.

A final incident that caught recent media attention was at the expense of Gilbert Gottfried, a comedian of Aflac duck-voice fame.  He also tweeted (@RealGilbert) disparaging remarks about the earthquake/tsunami in Japan— one of Aflac’s largest markets.  Aflac let him go and pulled all commercials with his voice.

In an era where media interviews are no longer the only way to connect with the public, are politicians and other public figures more at risk than ever of committing gaffes that hurt their reputations?  Or is there so much clamor that no one even notices everything but the big stuff?  I think that this just reinforces the necessity for proofreading.  It is essential for people to remember that tone does not come across well online— so a backhanded remark meant to be funny can actually be quite damaging (i.e., Kenneth Cole’s tweet about uproar in Cairo).

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A cautionary tale for Twitter

Yesterday, Politico reported that Rahm Emanuel met his Twitter imposter and, with a $5,000 charitable donation, claimed the Twitter account @MayorEmanuel.  Dan Sinker, the man who created the account, racked up more than 40,000 followers and Tweeted nearly 2,000 times, parody-style.

For example:

Driving around in Axelrod’s Civic, doing loops around the block outside Chico’s offices, my ass hanging out of the missing window, laughing.

less than a minute ago via webMayorEmanuel

This emphasizes the need for brands (including politicians) to embrace social media platforms and, at the very least, secure a presence on them.  Hopefully, this does not lead organizations to jump the gun on strategizing before actually launching a plan— just because they’ve registered a Twitter account doesn’t mean they are ready to jump in with both feet and start Tweeting.  Not taking the time to think things through would be a major misstep.

Actually, this week has brought a great example of major missteps and lack of strategy on Twitter.  This week, Charlie Sheen launched his verified Twitter handle @CharlieSheen and broke a Guinness World Record for the fastest amount of time to reach 1 million followers.  Though he’s an easy target and an extreme example, his rambling tweets perfectly demonstrate lack of an effective PR strategy.

Face it folks, you just feel better when you say it. #WINNING

less than a minute ago via web

So, the moral of these stories is that while it’s important to secure usernames and presences across popular platforms, just because you sign up does not mean you need to start engaging and participating immediately.  In fact, just listening for a while could do nothing but help to prepare for solid engagement.

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Social media on a local scale

One of the most important things about social media in the political realm is that it allows people to connect on a local level.  Even when a politician is traveling, they can access social media platforms on their phones and laptops.  Even when time is tight, they can quickly send a tweet or share an article via a blog post on the fly.  On a local level, the low cost/barrier of entry is a great opportunity for politicians.

This opportunity for direct connections is a brand new concept— one that allows politician and constituent communications like never before.

Josh Sternberg’s 2009 Mashable article How Local Politicians Are Using Social Media gives many great examples of this, with the emphasis that “ultimately, the strongest aspect of social media is the human element.”  The power of social media is that it can bring together people who would not otherwise be able to connect, with much less effort and money than other initiatives.

I think that what the Mashable article demonstrates is the importance of being where the people are.  Determining the platforms that your audiences use is essential to reach them.  Only the very dedicated would actually join a social media platform dedicated to a specific politician or political issue, but if a politician is able to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook where their audiences are already active, they can easily communicate with them.

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