Here’s the thing about social media and the interminable presidential election cycles — by the time voting happens 15 months from now, we’ll be talking about digital strategies that aren’t even around today.
President Obama wasted no time last week in embracing a new social media tack when he became “the first president to live Tweet.” His first-of-its-kind Townhall @ The White House captured the attention of Americans nationwide with the president receiving over 169,000 tweeted questions and comments from all corners of the country, including our Long Island PR firm. Issues ranged from housing to jobs and from the debt crisis to energy and defense spending.
While this electronic version of the town hall meeting might not have been truly substantive – and you wonder whether Tweeting by candidates is ripe for a few jump the shark moments – many felt it was an exciting step in bringing Americans closer to their leader through technology.
In the coming months, you can bet other candidates will gear up with social media. Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty recently jumped onto the YouTube and Twitter fray, announcing their presidential exploratory committees. Sarah Palin already has half a million Twitter followers. And President Obama’s political machine, which raised a record number of individual donations during the ’08 campaign largely through its Internet savvy, seems poised to tap into the huge potential of a social media world that has exploded since then.
With social media changing at warp speed, some strategists predict that the greatest digital innovations for 2012 may not even have surfaced yet – even as campaigns work to develop “apps” for smart phones and figure out how to effectively micro-target ads for Facebook. Notes Matt Ortega, a former online organizer for the Democratic National Committee, “As with anything, there’s going to be a shiny new cell phone every six months. You’re going to see both new tools and more sophistication in existing tools.”