AR-02: Kennedy Embracing Social Media Technologies

CNN Political Ticker has a piece on AR-02 candidate Patrick Kennedy, branding him “an example of the next generation of political candidates” due to Kennedy’s use of foursquare and other social media.

Says Kennedy:

I have always been attracted to new, budding technologies. […] I do not have any personal finances so [I] have to be more creative in outreach to communities and constituencies.  Social media, if used creatively, can do just as an effective job.

Foursquare is a new age populist tool. Today’s world is all about fundraising and being in your office on the phone. I want to shake hands and listen out there and I want people to keep track of me as a populist candidate.

While I don’t disagree with Kennedy’s assertion that social media can be effective in reaching potential voters, I think Blake Rutherford raising an interesting question: why doesn’t Kennedy have an interactive map (available from Foursquare) on his website or his Facebook page that would allow visitors to follow him?

I think this question is part of a much larger puzzle.  Namely, why have no Arkansas politicians mastered the importance of timing and sequencing in social media?  Almost all of the candidates in the national races have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, some sort of blog, a YouTube channel, or a combination of all four, yet none of them comes close to putting those tools to their highest and best use.

It’s not exactly rocket science.  A candidate’s new media plan could look something like this and he would be lightyears ahead of the competition:

  • Post at least 2 to 3 things a day to Facebook during reasonable daytime hours.  The number of people going directly to a candidate’s Facebook page more than once in a day without some prompting is going to be low, so you need to appear in the voters’ news feeds frequently enough that he or she will see your message while on Facebook generally.
  • Proactively use new media interest to push your broader message.  People think to click “Like” but they don’t always think to repost or share.  This can be as simple as (1) posting your position re: health care reform, and (2) appending a simple message like “If you like what you’re reading, please help me spread my message to as many people as possible by sharing this with your friends and family!”  Any time your post gets shared, an entire new group of people who wouldn’t have seen it before get to view it.
  • Use social media in conjunction with one another rather than thinking of each as a stand-alone entity.  If you post something on Facebook or put up a new blog post on your main site, Tweet about it and provide a link (using www.tiny.cc for space):  “Check out my thoughts on the recent health care reform. [link]”
  • Make your YouTube channel a visual extension of the thing you are Tweeting/blogging/Facebooking about.  Upload any interviews, or debates, or even just footage from an event; then post it on Facebook; then Tweet about it

Like I said, it’s not exactly rocket science.  When you add in that President Obama provided an excellent roadmap in how to use these outlets (as well as iPhone apps, etc.), there’s really no excuse not to have a solid, easy plan in place for your own campaign.

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