Looking to Past Campaigns; Mobilizing a Generation and Organizing for America

Mobilizing Generation 2.outlines seven keys elements of the “2.0” virtually dependent reality we currently thrive in. Those elements, outline as chapters are blogging, social networking, video and photo sharing, mobile phones, wikis, maps and virtual worlds. To some, these may seem obvious as the term “web 2.0” is really up to how the user chooses to define it. This book refers to the world we now live in, the next phase of the web, being referred to as 2.0 or second edition. We are even hypothesized as to be moving quickly into web 3.0. From my experience in CCT, web 2.0 has been referred to as the ability for users to interact and share personalized data, text or graphics in real time. To some or most, their definition is a mixture of the two. In Mobilizing Generation 2.0, each element (or chapter) is broken down into a series of examples, tips and steps as to how one could use the tool to generate mobilization of youth in a digitally dependent world.

Personally, I was drawn to the mobile phone and virtual world chapters. Mobile phones will definitely be playing a central role in upcoming elections, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It’s been used in the past for petitions, event recruitment, and the timeliness of this medium is heavily discussed as in a n example of the Asthma U.K. text-alert campaign that warned asthma suffers about high pollen days, and times to avoid being outdoors to bring along some remedies. When applying information from this chapter, it is clear that (published in 2008) this book does has not yet realized the potential of smartphones. With smartphones we can connect not only through text messaging but through mobile applications, which can be used to store and collect much more information as well as connect individuals through mobile mapping and messages without tapping into text messaging.

When first investigating Mobilizing Generations 2.0, I was a bit skeptical as to how virtual worlds could be used in mobilizing a generation, as they don’t seem very mainstream or have the ability to mobilize people to vote or become active towards a cause. I then learned of examples where media coverage can be taken into the virtual world, connecting and engaging supporters is possible. Maybe not on a large scale population frame of mind, but on a global scale.Users have sold virtual items for charity, but I still don’t personally see how this can translate into a large enough impact into todays economic environment to make a difference.

A more recent piece, Year One of Organizing for America, was written post Obama Campaign and features a wealth of information about the permanent field campaign in the digital age and was written by Ari Melber. It looks at a number of arenas where digital campaigning came into play and how people were mobilized. Organizing For America (OFA), is what Obama’s campaign was referred to. The report focuses on the first year of OFA in 2009. The first area that was looked at was Community and Reform and looked at areas of politics where people could become engaged and support Obama and where they could begin to reform.”Obama’s post-election effort provided a separate, nonpolicy organizing track explicitly focused on fostering community,” as the OFA was more focused on community and indirect contact with supports. The image of engagement was there, but the actual interaction with OFA was less obvious. OFA was thought of as being a non-political, but governmental campaign to support issues directly affecting america and not the elections, although they were a secondary triumph as the majority of issues that were sided with under OFA were democratic. It effecting increased volunteerism and had a clear strategic agenda.


The Obama Campaign: Success in Online Fundraising

In the article “How Candidates Can Use The Internet To Win In 2010” by Colin Delaney is like a “how to” guide for online campaign developers. He discusses first how the Obama campaign utilized their online presence to reap the rewards of online donations and what worked well for them, outreach. He then goes into tools, the timing of asking for donations and resources one can use, online reach, fundraising/mobilization and concludes by putting all these pieces together. Delaney is clearly an expert on a number of topics related to political campaigns, specifically online. He also wrote an piece, which was the onset of a series of articles, titled, “Learning From Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 & Beyond,” which discusses similar points as to how the Obama campaign used the internet and social media to rally voters and obtain donations.

“On, or MyBO, Obama’s own socnet, 2 million profiles were created. In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created — at least 1,000 of them on Feb. 10, 2007, the day Obama announced his candidacy. Some 3 million calls were made in the final four days of the campaign using MyBO’s virtual phone-banking platform. On their own MyBO fundraising pages, 70,000 people raised $30 million,” this quote clearly from Delaney Learning From Obama article shows the magnitude of what Obama was able to do online, and he was the first of the presidential candidates to take advantage of this open space to reach voters.

In Lessons From Obama, Delaney points out how we can learn from Obama’s success and touches on a few main points, these points are elaborated also in his article Winning in 2010:

  • Start early
  • Build to scale
  • Innovate where necessary; do everything else incrementally better
  • Make it easy to find, forward and act
  • Pick where you want to play
  • Channel online enthusiasm into specific, targeted activities that further the campaign’s goals
  • Integrate online advocacy into every element of the campaign

In the upcoming election year, we will definitely see these social media tips incorporated as well as elements incorporated that may not have been anticipated in 2010, such as the heavy use of smartphones and cellular donations.

One of the key elements discussed in Lessons From Obama, that I personally feel stuck out was Delaney’s view on Constituent Relations Management and the importance of this within the online presence. Too easily, I believe web managers are driven to think of getting the donations and being done with the customer with a simple “thank you, come again”. What worked, as Delaney pointed out, is that with CRM the user is able to break down the list of followers by gender, demographic, location and target specific user. This in turn, makes the user appear as though the candidate knows who they are would reach out to them personally in this targeted outreach. Staying in touch with supporters is also helpful as Delaney states, “Staying in touch with supporters via cell phone text messaging, it’s been the “next big thing” in online politics for several years now – and it still is”.

To further emphasize the importance of Obama’s fundraising success, check out this info graphic from (click to enlarge):

Rapid Change in Online Group Dynamic (Filtering to Come)

As discussed in my previous post, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, a book by Clay Shirky, is based primarily around the internet and group dynamic within the context of organization, mobilization and cohesion within a global reach of individuals through online communities and outreach. The book opens with an example of how drastically the masses of people can come together to support a cause they feel passionately about, even if the subject has little affect on the grander picture within the lives of those participating in the debate over Ivanna’s stolen cellphone.

The book moves in to cover topics surrounding media outlets, social dilemmas, institutional challenges and the pace of user generated content. Within media outlets he states that how our media world is shaped has now shifted so that it is cluttered with the output of those qualified and unqualified informers and potential influencers. I have to agree, at some point, those that are exporting information to others and don’t have viable information can be doing harm online, but the wealth of information we now have makes it difficult for some people not to be informed.

Shirky describes the loss of social capital and how don’t necessary hold others to a certain standard within our social lives. In the mid-1900s, social structures were built on interactions and less on our online space, we built relationships based on who we had access to and made sure those were strong relationships, building circles. Now, we’re building circles online through spaces such as Google+, where they literally call them “your circles”. When we take a minute to think of this, most people have forgone joining clubs and organizations due to their satisfaction with connecting with those that they find online and supporting global causes rather than hyper-local causes.

The challenge of institutions, due to the collective actions of the masses, is the cost at which these actions are worked out, there virtually is none. People can act online, completely bypassing the institutions money making ability to coordinate actions. They then lose the control of the collective. Talent and why people contribute their time is, or the motive, is now taken out of real time and put online, which makes it much more difficult to track for institutions, they lose the ability to know why people are joining causes, if the institution is not currently online using extensive tracking methods. In our Internet Politics class, Simon Owens discussed InfoGraphics and the ability for those to be tracked by bloggers and web-producers, but on a much smaller scale, the motive of those sharing may be skeptical to larger institutions without the ability to hire PR agencies.

Finally, I’ll discuss what Shirky refers to in one of his earlier chapters as “Publish, Then Filter”. Shirky is describing the action of amateurs online to publish irrelevant information with editing or filtering what they are stating, they are simply putting it out there for all to see. This is an interesting concept, because most people (myself included at times), don’t think about who might attain what we are putting online and what some of the consequences of publishing this data can be.

Overall, Shirky’s book was relatable and defined some interesting concepts that can be easily understood by non-techies. The social behavior of organizing large groups without the interference of grand organizations is rapidly changing. The way we come together, connect and motivate others has taken on much different roles than past years due to the rapid alteration in our abilities to use the internet.  In the future, we may see that their will be communities online that attempt to build offline relationships in a more successful manner.

Nanotargeting in Online Advertising and Political Campaigns

In 2009, Josh Kotler realized the power of the internet and online advertising for political campaigns when most others were still skeptical. He points out that it did indeed work for big name candidates like President Barack Obama and Howard Dean, but for lesser names like senate campaigns, it may be less powerful in the eyes of the less “online media educated”. In his series of articles on nanotargeting, Kotler dives into online marketing/advertising by identifying specific niche demographics by interest and virtual location. In his first article Long-Tail Nanotargeting, he states, “So, instead of identifying the most universally persuasive messages and broadcasting them to a wide audience, in the long-tail model you take the most persuasive messages and nanotarget each one to the right niche”. By identifying enouch niches and altering the message to tailor it specifically to that group, you have a much more responsive campaign, with lower costs due to the lack of wasted impressions, he discovers.

In his second article Nanotargeted Pressure, written exactly one year later, Kotler discusses how nanotargeting can be used to pressure news groups to act a certain way, he uses online advertising to direct messages at individuals by utilizing information they have made available through social networks, their place of employment. He shows how effective the power of nanotargeting is with his example involving CNN and Lou Dobbs with his position on immigration, which spurred this movement. Inexpensively and in an extremely effective manner, he targeted advertisments to CNN employees to deliver messages to Lou Dobbs through his colleagues. This was a genius plan and he shows how he came to this conclusion and the positive end result.

Peter Greenfield, wrote an article titled, The Digital Playbook: Can online ads move poll numbers?, discussing the powerful use of targeted online advertising, which is exactly what Kotler has described fourteen months prior to Greenfield’s article. The Digital Playbook shows how effective nanotargeted advertising can be through popular media outlets to reach out to families with infertility obstacles through “A recent study conducted by Russell Research on behalf of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, measured the effectiveness of an online campaign in the Washington, D.C. area to raise awareness of an important issue for them. RESOLVE is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the millions of Americans suffering from infertility find solutions to starting a family, and they focused their campaign on embryo donation. A baseline poll was taken before the digital campaign began and a follow up survey was conducted upon its conclusion. No traditional media was used – the only messaging was delivered via online advertising.” The end result was astonishing in its support of both Greenfield and Kotler’s predictions of targeting online advertising. Stastically, people are becoming more responsive to online advertising than tradition televised statements where single messages are picked out from a 60 second commercial.

Both authors are clearly on the same page with online advertising, this seems to be a trend now, more so than it was one and two years ago, in 2009 and 2010. As we approach a new election and the year 2012, nanotargeting seems to be much more of a normative action within online advertising with Facebook and Google. With Google+, we might almost expect an even greater targeted advertisement initiative.

“Campaign Dimensions” Applied to Humorous Online Politics Guide

In a series of articles published by and written by Professor Alan Rosenblatt Ph.D., the main focus is on The Dimensions of a Digitally Networked Campaign, followed by three supporting articles in which one dimensional, two dimensional and three dimensional digital networks can be utilized within a campaign and must be integrate together for that campaign to potentially be successful. The ability of individuals receiving and collecting messages from the campaign and how they internalize those messages is related to how they are broadcasted, transacted and discussed (or networked). Within the first dimension there is a focus on information and a campaign disseminating relevant facts and statements in a one-way communication. For campaigns, this would be the obvious first step, telling people what you’re all about or what you stand for without expecting a verbal response. In a two dimensional strategy the individual, or “voter”, as Rosenblatt references them, is given the opportunity to transact or engage in an action that would preferably benefit the campaign or cause. Finally, in the three dimensional strategy, the voters are able to discuss the cause or issue without interference or interaction of the campaign. they are interacting “off the grid”, in these cases you would hope that your initial message you disseminated in one-way communication would have a root meaning, allowing voters to spread the “gist” of your argument.

Rosenblatt’s Campaign Dimensions article series provides a framework by which a political campaign can be designed within. A campaign would realistically start with communication, rallying people to join you for a cause you can effectively articulate. In Online Politics 101, by Colin Delaney, we are introduced to a comprehensive online guide to social media and social networking, web design/layout, strategy, influence, optimization and rules for online politics. This guide is humorous and witty, allowing the reader the opportunity to image how they might utilize these suggestions without overshadowing jargon. Delaney shows how through social media tools, or online political tools, you can effectively communicate one dimensionally through your website or “hub”. In a transactional sense, he provides insight on what and what not to do in an email marketing campaign and how to manage your email list, as well as pointing out some issues to look out for or what to expect. The community aspect of Rosenblatt’s articles can be demonstrated in Online Politics 101 from a bloggers point of view or through social networking. The culmination of a informative, transactional and community oriented dimensions and spread throughout your overall strategy, which Delaney broke down for each element, within the online campaign.

In conclusion, Rosenblatt’s series on campaign dimensions set a framework for how to gain useful tactics from Online Politics 101. Looking at the tools in Delaney’s text from a dimensional angle, you see a clear path of how to logically construct a political or advocacy campaign.

The Alliance “Raise Your Voice” Campaign for International Exchange

Through the course “Internet Politics” led by Professor Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D., I will be following the organization Alliance Exchange on all social media and networking levels. There is a current “Raise Your Voice” campaign being implemented that will be the focus of my studies throughout the course. Their website states, “Through our Raise Your Voice for International Exchange campaign, the Alliance is striving to increase the profile of international exchange programs—and their very tangible value in communities across the United States. At a time when pressure is mounting for reductions in federal spending, Members of Congress need to hear directly from their constituents about the local impact of exchanges in their home states and districts. They need to be aware that exchange programs benefit local communities, colleges and universities, high schools, businesses, and individual citizens.” The end result of these studies will be an evaluation of the current campaign and a redesigned campaign to spread awareness for federal support of international exchange.

The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange is an association of nongovernmental organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States. The Alliance serves as the only collective public policy voice of the exchange community and works to promote international exchange programs: sending Americans abroad, and bringing foreign participants to the U.S., for educational, professional, or cultural purposes.

The mission of Alliance Exchange is “to formulate and promote public policies that support the growth and well being of international exchange links between the people of the United States and other nations. We work to accomplish this missions through direct advocacy with the U.S. Congress, Department of State, and other agencies within the Executive Branch.”