When you’ve just launched a campaign to gain re-election to the highest office in the land, you could do worse than ensure you have the ultimate communication tool at your disposal. But what exactly is that?…
Isn’t it obvious? Facebook of course… Or is it?
If President Obama is aiming for a $1billion war chest as many believe, then he and his campaign team know the value of dropping in for coffee at Facebook HQ. The Democrats were the first to fully harness Facebook’s potential as a political, mass communication tool.
So is social media heralding a move away from traditional face-to-face campaigning to an online, virtual world where politicians no longer press the flesh of the electorate but simply poke them instead?
Well if the introduction Mark Zuckerberg gave President Obama on his visit to Facebook is anything to go by, then the answer is no. Face time is not only set to remain a part of political campaigning but we’re likely to see a lot more of it. Zuckerberg said, “It’s never been as easy for people to have their voice heard… but it’s good to compliment that online dialogue with some face time as well”.
In 2008 Obama galvanized a supporter base through the use of free online media tools… and spent an estimated $275million on television face time alone.
The true power of Facebook is the ability to use it to deliver no-cost, dynamic, mass communication that delivers high value, mass support and funding. But the power of seeing and hearing our politicians speak is still what decides who sits in the big chair. During the last general election campaign in the UK, Nick Clegg went from second tier political leader to King-maker and ultimately Deputy Prime Minister off the back of commanding performances in the UK’s first televised leadership debates. His party also embraced the world of social media but it was highly competent face time that delivered them the spare key to Number 10.
On a more humbling note, the events in the Middle East have shown just how powerful social media can be in galvanising public opinion, but actions must follow in order to deliver real change. Social media tools have revolutionized the way we communicate, but when such tools are used to support the physical voice and actions of people, history is made.