I am having loads of fun these days having stumbled on a couple of heated debates between people involved in working on political communication online. Most of them always track back to the Obama campaign in explaining why they are suggesting so many "innovative" tools to their respective candidates.
I remain puzzled for mainly two reasons:
1. It was my understanding that the major success for Obama via social/online media was NOT awareness but money - as it is normal online, where contributions are made via online payment tools, can be more easily tracked and more easily followed-up on. Plus awareness in a U.S. campaign is mainly achieved through canvassing and public shows as the nation is more of a "let's go and see the man" than a "let's watch TV and see the man" type. So, when using online Obama was less about awareness and trust and more about money.
[think about it, why bother with all those great speeches if online had been his main focus?:D]
2. It was also my understanding that online was used to obtain more specific information on undecided households and their direct permission to receive canvassing teams to get them to switch.
So basically, Obama did not use online for awareness but rather for persuasion, leads and closing. Weirdly enough (wink wink) this is exactly what online is good for.
So, what puzzles me is this:
- in Romania elections are swayed by semi urban and rural people who are less likely to miss elections because of bad weather [or good weather driving them to the closest mountain resort.]
- in Romania there is no system of online contributions for campaigns and payment tools are still primitive and more likely to be available to a small urban high education crowd
- in Romania there is no system of mapping undecided households based on IP or google maps or anything like that
- in Romania, by all logical deduction, Internet users are either:
a) smart enough to know better - forum goers, site readers and blogs and the such
b) stupid enough to not know better - forum trolls, social network afficionados and the such
c) young enough to not be able to (pay, vote) - social networks, video sharing sites etc
d) young enough to not care (ab politics, ab voting) - idem
So why are we constantly referencing Obama as a case study? We are unable to get people to contribute, we are unable to get their info to map out the country, we are unable to track their progress from undecided to voters, we are unable to make them care. The latter obviously has nothing to do with the tools of Internet but rather with the fact that online is a great "de-frauder" - meaning a medium where frauds are easily spotted and crucified. But the former are, I think, facts.
Somehow, I feel online is once more being used for insane "viral" tactics like attack TVCs which cannot be aired, games, pointless social media accounts. For the sake of this country, though, I hope people will not give their vote based on fun-ness.
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.