Well here we go, the 2008 presidential election has been officially branded as the first " internet election." All the candidates at different levels seem to be embracing this technology -- and as they should! The social networks are a free unlimited 24 hours a day platform and its just so attractive and powerful, a candidate would be insane not to use it. However, I'm still waiting to see if any of the candidates can truly capture the full power and potential of these social networking sites. I am hopeful but not to encouraged, I don't think any of the campaign managers fully understand how to use these sites for both offensive and deffensive tactics.
Whatever candidate does manage to capture the full potential of the social network sites will most definitely become a force to reckon with. Just imagine millions of voters hearing there candidates message quickly and conveniently and in more depth before it can be found on the news networks. I believe as campaign resources become tighter for political hopefuls the social networks could be their best opportunity.
You don't have to be very Internet savvy to understand that the voters are using everything from traditional news sites to a wide range of social media sites (including blogs, network sites like MySpace, Wikipedia and other on-line resources and the candidates' own websites to get information about presidential candidates and political issues alike.
Now, I know that the election is still more than a year away. However early participation can help brand and raise donations for the web savvy politician. Beginning while the field is still extremely broad has its benefits. It gives the candidates an opportunity to build online interest and content. It also gives them a little time to focus on the impact of search and social media before the campaign gets really heated up. Developing these lines of communications with the voters and search engines early can make the difference between getting your message out affectively or not being found it all.
Voters use the Web to research the political candidates much the same way as they research products they're interested in purchasing. So, under Standing the principles of being visible or being found on the Internet is critical. By starting early you're able to insurer been that the lines of communication are well-established, (prior to the important political battles).
Its important for candidates to establish themselves on-line for more than just their names, it's important that they start branding themselves with issue based terms. Those very issues that they're basing their campaign message on. If you look closely you'll find only the social media sites, like blogs, video-sharing sites, social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and collaborative online encyclopedias like Wikipedia -- appear to dominate the natural and paid search landscape for political issue-related topics. This is somewhat dangerous for the candidate, because if they're not actively branding and influencing these social media sites then who is? Maybe their competitor or sume special interest that's working against them. A candidate must build a significant store of relative content that has been optimized for the search engines to ensure their message cannot be corrupted or usurped by other content.
The most effective candidates will allocate resources to gain visibility and market share around topics in which internet users have expressed widespread interest, and will utilize those sites where voters are finding and using election-related research.
With the recent move from Googol to "Universal" search, campaign managers and their candidates, will need to ensure that there sites are "optimized for Engine optimization" the new broad range of Web searches for content. As today's Internet evolves into a more participation-based social network, more information will be available from many sources such as articles, opinions, news and video and audio files about the candidates and their position. All this information will become critically important for the politicians campaign and there success. For all candidates, a core benefit of encouraging social networking activities will be increased search visibility.
Along with this new level of visibility comes a new level of dirty politics. A politician or even individuals or groups could launch a very effective smear campaign at a moment's notice. Leaking or manufacturing faults information could become a powerful weapon against candidates and must be vigorously guarded against. Tracking of the candidates on-line information and opinions must be constantly monitored and reviewed to ensure accuracy. Furthermore there must be a mechanism for supporters to quickly report any inconsistencies directly to the candidates support group. I have purposely not mentioned any of the tactics that could be deployed against a candidate. If you are a candidate and would like to know more about protecting yourself against such tactics please feel free to contact me.
Now, on a personal note, I'm looking forward to this election I feel there's a number of important issues facing our candidates and their supporters. Since I'm neither a Democrat or Republican I'm excited to hear what the different candidates have to say and I will be following them closely. Well that's it for now, and I wish you a happy and successful campaign.