Social Networking Tools & politics

Getting involved in politics is one of the earliest forms of “social networking.” Supporting a candidate or cause is a critical way in which people connect with the world around them and express themselves to others. Technology is just making these connections easier all the time.

These relatively new “social technologies,” of which social utilities like Facebook are an increasingly large subset, are demonstrating that individuals not only can easily connect to politics but directly affect their world as well. People inside politics, both in campaigns and advocacy organizations, are beginning to recognize the potential and are seeking ways to use this powerful new tool.

Early social technologies like email and blogs were the first steps in the construction of digital models reflecting processes of “social networking” from the real-world. These technologies garnered mainstream media attention in the 2004 and 2006 elections, and had some direct effect on voting behavior. Now companies are creating more and more accurate models of how people socially interact, and are building on the web of connections that people share. The next generation of social networking websites are creating new ways for people to effectively leverage those connections and scale them up. Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace are new means to reach political participants where they are interacting with their friends, and in a much more efficient way than previously possible. Each commands the attention of tens of millions of people on a daily basis. For example, more than half of Facebook’s over 50 million unique users (growing by more than 1 million weekly) visit the site daily, and generate an average over 2 billion page views per day. YouTube streams more than 100 million videos daily.

By leveraging “friend” connections and using virtual “word-of-mouth” marketing, these social sites offer an opportunity to break through the media cacophony. On sites like Facebook, trusted people spread political messages in a way only dreamed of in the age of mass media.

Social technology assists politicos and advocacy organizations in five key areas – branding, voter registration, fundraising, volunteering, and voter turnout. We will look at each in the memo below. It’s important to note that the longer-term political relationships that lead to the most dedicated supporters come through good constituent services and communications. These, too, can be facilitated through social technology. Yet technology is not a substitute for the core human connections that drive politics – it is an enhancement and amplification of those personal connections. The fact that all politics is personal should still be front and center for all political professionals using these new tools.

For more info contact Wood & Associates MarCom  Corey Wood m.b Calgary, Alberta


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