Almost every major name in the running probably already has a blog, a microblog, a social networking account, and a few people in charge of running his or her social media campaign. I had high hopes for the Internet being a great tool for positive and proactive campaigns for the national elections in 2010, but from what I have observed, social media is used along the same lines of the traditional campaign.
The same things you’ll see in the paper trail are pretty much the same things you would see on the Internet today: negative campaigns, mudslinging, and the occasional snarky campaign manager/public relations specialist using analog methods for a digital medium.
That’s great and all – I’m sure the race to 2010 has lucrative returns written all over it – but it kind of looks ridiculous. The Internet is supposed to help elevate political awareness and translate that to political action. Yet if people treat social media like they would pamphlets or comic books distributed at the polling precinct right before voting, it somehow renders the tool sorta-kinda ineffective. If a digital tool is used in an analog way, the impression fails.
I’m not the be-all-end-all of anything except jologs lyrics translations, and I’m not an expert on the Internet, but here are some of my thoughts on how social media could be used to great effect on the road to 2010.
The Internet is all about presence: it is one of the many tools available to raise awareness and stimulate healty debate and discourse. Yet the backbone of the World Wide Web still involves machines: machines do not vote, machines do not understand, and machines perceive issues based on algorithms. A primary objective where much of social media strategy should revolve around on is visibility. If you use the Internet as a part of your campaign, you better make sure that you’re visible, you’re searchable, you’re out there, and you’re reputable.
I guess the lesson learned from the many “nuisance candidate” posts I’ve been writing so far is that of presence and visibility: delivering where the searches are. It’s not a matter of tags or keywords or whatnot, but the following:
- Knowing what the demand is.
- Knowing where the demand is coming from.
- Knowing how to “funnel” that demand and turn it into traffic.
Not that I care much for the traffic or the hits, but for me, at least, it’s fun. So you need a couple of things:
- Demand: traffic sources. You need to do your research, like demographics, survey data, public sentiments, and so on and so forth.
- Content: stuff you make to get more traffic. You need to bring in people to your space online and make your opinions heard.
In effect, by writing so much material about the opponent of your candidate or the candidate you don’t particularly like, you end up burying your candidate. For the most part this is why I think Noynoy is so successful, why Chiz is so visible, why Gibo is starting to pick up his vibe, and why Villar and Gordon are having their bits of turbulence.
The prescription is simple: write more about your candidate. Whenever you can, extol the positive virtues of your candidate, and gather as much positive press as you can about him or her. You need to write, rewrite, and develop your content in such a way that you can rake in the readers, educate them, and convince them to vote for your candidate. That begins and ends with:
- Knowing how to write that content. When writing for the Internet, you make sure that the keywords are positioned in the right way, the search terms are populated correctly, that people find it interesting, and that the machines find it in a sea of information.
- Knowing how to spread that content around. It’s all about integration. Hyperlinking, sharing, distribution, word-of-mouth, and everything else are used to make your posts and PR easy to find and easy to spread. You have to network. That’s the beauty of integrating blogging, microblogging, and social networking.
- Knowing how to keep that content reputable and visible. Yes, content gets lost along the way, so you need to keep your content up there. You keep on producing and delivering content, and making sure they do not get lost. You don’t simply write and hope for the best. You have to keep things on track.
Then again, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
Here’s where mudslinging (and mudslinging masquerading as critiques) doesn’t work: the more you talk about the other candidate and less about your candidate, you’re not maximizing visibility. In the Internet, any publicity is good publicity: search engines and other tools do not discern or judge between positives and negatives as long as the term (in this case the candidate) is there. Pumping out a lot of negative press against an opposing candidate will only make him or her more searchable, more visible, and more out there than the candidate you’re rooting for. It won’t work in social media.
More on this when I feel like it, and I really, really feel it.