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 MyBarackObama.com, 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”.
Mashable.com has become my primary source for developments in social media, emerging technology and even pop culture. Not a surprise as the site is so customizable. Today, I stumbled upon an article titled, 5 Online Tools For Activists, by Activists, by Susannah Vila. As introduced in the article, Vila “directs content and outreach at Movements.org, an organization dedicated to identifying, connecting and supporting activists using technology to organize for social change”.
In her article, she identifies five online tools: 1) CrowdVoice 2) Sukey 3) Off-the-Record Messaging 4) Crabgrass and 5) Piddler. These tools emerge as niche-oriented platforms for activists. Vila theorizes that through a need for socialization, which directly correlates with the same statement by Clay Shirky in his book; Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, users will congregrate online to support like causes. Shirky was led by the same conclusion that the majority of people who participate online in support of a cause are initially pulled in by watching their peers become active within a similar activism and from there they share and inform others. Vila and Shirky share this common outlook, Shirky outlined examples of when activism catches on within a circle of influence and becomes a online phenomen which potentially occurs at certain points when a social network is popular at a given time and not crowded by other sites. This may be at points when there are not prominently emerging sites, like Google+’s unveiling. Will we see large scale following of causes in the near future, once the shock of this new social media tool takes on relative use? Shifts for movements due to shifts in or primary, popular networks.
Vila lists five online tools that are newly emerging that could potentially sway a large crowd if they become popular enough globally, to effectively advocate a cause. CrowdVoice is open to all users to share content to support causes and share information related to their concern. Among the current topics are LGBTQ Rights in the USA, Protests in Iran, Demands for Reform in Jordan, the topics are varying and may be too broad for users to find a cause to become passionate about if it becomes to difficult to discover peers. Aesthetically, the site appears to be cluttered with information.
“Sukey is our name for a set of applications designed to keep you protected and informed during protests. When you see something interesting, you tell us. When we’re confident that something has actually happened, we tell you,” states the website of Sukey.org. Accompanied by a mobile application, this site appears to take action itself, mobilizing others to follow suite. They claim to “keep demonstrators safe, mobile and informed”. Based in London, Sukey encourages users to use twitter as a form of notification, brought together through hashtags. Off-the-Record Messaging appears to be the more dangerous of the suggestions, it encrypts your messages so that they cannot be read by those intercepting the message. This may imply to some people that users have something to hide, which can be both good and bad.
Crabgrass is a software that is more directed for the organization that would utilize its services rather than the overall audience that would be supporting an organization. It was setup by Riseup. Vila points out that the United Nations Development Programme and Camp for Climate Action are both users of Crabgrass, which definitely adds credibility to the service.
Finally, Vila suggest Piddler as an online tool for activists. Piddler is a social network allowing users to be completely anonymous beyond information they provide. It is secure and may provide the opportunity for activists to organize and mobilize their efforts for activism without being traced and followed by advertisements or opposing organizations. The site claims to be “clever, secure and quick,” which are definitely terms that one would be looking for in a social network.
The five tools outlined by Vila are great resources for those looking to become active; they provide very different benefits of safety, privacy, secure communication, mobilizing and connection. Here Comes Everybody can be embodied by many networks that Shirky could not have even been aware of when writing his book, but the evolution of activism and the ability of those to come together online continues to develop.