Monday, March 10, 2008

Friend Me! Vote for Me! Donate Now! (Sunday, March 9)

Panelists: (L-R) Adam Conner, Facebook; Julie Barko Germany, Director, Graduate School of Political Management, George Wash. Univ. (Moderator); Colin Delany,; Tanya Tarr, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Patrick Ruffini, Ruffni Strategies.

So this one was a no-brainer, even if you've just met me for a few minutes, you know I was going to be at this panel and my gosh, it was worth every minute of it.

Where do I start? The moderator was one of the best I have seen throughout the conference, she really seemed to have done her homework on the panelists and she was very aware of their areas of expertise and thus knew where to direct her questions. She conducted it in a Gwen Ifil style (Washington Week on PBS Fridays at 7pm - Check your local listings)

Germany began the panel by giving a "very brief" summary of how Politics has evolved on the Internet - In 2000, John McCain was the first to use the Internet to raise money. in 2004, Howard Dean reinforced and redefined fund-raising over the Internet and also used it to create communities (Meet-up groups). In 2004, George W. Bush also used the Internet to Get-Out-the-Vote. In 2006, the Macaca moment happened on Youtube (George Allen of VA lost) and by 2007, every candidate running for President now have profiles on both MySpace and Youtube.

Delany - On Ron Paul and Obama

The classic political world is very top-down approach. You want to stay on top and make sure no mistakes are made. In tech-world, the re is a bias for this kind of approach. There is more peer-peer conversation going on.

Ron Paul filled a void for people that needed to be filled. His main campaign has not really done a lot. rather, it has been his followers who have taken up the mantle to promote Ron Paul via Youtube, Meet-ups, and online fund-raising drives.

The Obama campaign has gotten some criticism from purists for being top-down. However, it is fascinating how Obama mixes he models - Fundraising, volunteers, meet-ups, individual pages, etc. But the Internet also brings up the darker side of peer to peer sometimes. Early on , the Obam campaign had to confront a viral email message that was being circulated that suggested Obama was a secret sleeper muslin who will be a Manchurian candidate. The first two people he hired for Opposition Research were tasked with neutralizing this false message.

Ron Paul showed the power of individuals taking it upon a task on their own, while Obama showed the savvy of marrying intensity of support under central guidance.

Today, the new political activism is creating content online, citizen content. We have seen this with the Obama girl, Black Eyed Peas Video, the Parody of the Blackeyed Peas Video on McCain, etc. The cycle of creativity is very short.

Patrick Ruffini

Talking about top down campaigns, Clinton would be the best example and she has had mixed results. Overall, it has worked for her. The vast majority of activity is going to the candidate’s website and registering their email. Then you can email them and fund-raise from the list. Clinton has done well with her email list.

Adam Conner

Looking at 2008, it is more an evolution than it is a revolution. In 2004, Howard Dean was the revolution, today , there is a mass adoption that is going on.

At Facebook, we have the idea of the Social graph - if you can map everyone’s social graph, then you can make the flow of information much better. Campaigns have seen the benefit of this and are takng advantage of it.

We also know that peer-to-peer communication is more influential, Facebook harnesses this. you should integrate Facebook into your campaign, the Obama campaign has done well. By running one Facebook ad, you can reach more people and it is cheaper than 3 days worth of TV ads.


Moderator Question: How many people here have “friended” a candidate online? There were a significant number of people who had done so and some ho had also donated money and eventually voted for the candidate.


Tanya Tarr

Presentation: How Men and Women Engage Online (How Web 2.0 r u?)

- Women use emotion to gauge language online
-More men get friends to donate online
-More men use online to get people to volunteer
-Men claim to have more friends online

Points to Note
- Men are likely to lie about their list
- Small is beautiful, a smaller list is more passionate and involved

The goal then is to drive people to your list, political campaigns can use this list to bypass the traditional media.


Ruffini - The Blog, “A Thousand true Fans,” talks about the long tail effect in politics. The first few people who flock to your page are going to be your die-hard fans (super-activists/core supporters..) The challenge is how you persuade people when they start to number in the thousands

Delany - Sometimes, we do run the error of focusing too much on presidential campaigns. They are also other campaigns going on even at the city level that may not have the resources of huge campaigns but that can equally use the Internet to succeed.

Tarr - Women are lurkers , in the sense that they are more willing to give you their opinions

Delany - If you have a product that no one is willing to buy, you are doomed. Ron Paul raised 30 million but was never able to get beyond is 5-8% of core supporters.

Germany - Elected officials in Washington have admitted themselves, that they do not actually have a good understanding of the Internet and technology.

Question: How do you measure failure?
Delany: If you win or Lose!

1 comment:

Cherie said...

I would have been there with you, Sunday! Because of this historical election, I have a facination with politics right now and because of the projects I have been working on I love hearing what candidates are doing to keep up with technology and the young audiences that are consumed with the internet. It seems that this year, every candidate is doing whatever it takes to get to that young voter demographic with the YouTube debates and facebook profiles etc. The internet is a great previously untaped resource for exposure and accumulating donations. The network news channels keep talking about record donation totals due to many small contributions. It only makes sence that this would occur at the same time that the internet is such a popular medium for candidtates to use.
Facinating report!