The Politics of Online and Social Media

Whether you watched the presidential election results with a “the sky is falling” reaction or a “raise the roof” dance, you can’t argue that we’ve all been affected one way or another. However, the bigger question for me is whether people made their decision early in the campaign season or were influenced by information they picked up closer to Election Day.

Did you vote according to your traditional party affiliation? Did you gain new perspective through debate with friends on Facebook, Twitter or, dare I say it, in real life? Was there anything that made you fundamentally change your voting decision?

I’m not about to embark on a long dissertation about what I thought was good advertising or bad advertising. As many of you know, the hatemongering, lies, propaganda and endless array of misleading bullshit drives me crazy. I absolutely hate it. Both sides engaged in it, so I’m not pointing a finger at any of the candidates specifically. But I am the VP of an advertising agency, so it is worth a small amount of tactical due diligence to see who did the better job of embracing the available platforms.

Online Tactics - Facebook:

It seems to me the Obama camp understood the power of social media from swaying so much opinion during the 2008 election. It seemed like Obama began Facebook advertising long before I saw anything from the Republican Party. During the week leading up to the election, I also noticed Obama utilizing “Instagram-like" square filtered images advocating that I should vote early. Furthermore the media buy I saw was targeted specifically at Florida, where I live. So I think there were a number of things going on here: a classic geographic buy, compounded with a trendier “look” than I saw from the opposition.

Online Tactics - Blog Ads:

In an effort to sway female voters, the Republican Party did a very good job tactically buying positions on female blogs such as the Little Kitchen. Julie Deily, blogger, cook, speaker and friend has an amazing little enterprise that speaks not only to women and foodies, but to people who find a cultural connection with their past as it pertains to the meals that they prepare. Julie works with ad networks that place advertising within her blog. Therefore, this is an extremely smart buy. Not only did the Romney campaign hit a female/mommy demographic, they also touched a loyal Asian population that finds Julie’s content both authentic and fun. This is a total win-win.

Online Tactics - Fortune Telling:

More than any election I can recall, this contest tried to sway public opinion utilizing prognosticating polling. I always question this tactic because it seems weak-minded for someone to vote for a leader simply because they are “probably” going to win. It's a bandwagon tactic that seems inferior. But nevertheless I saw more maps, charts, posts and additional graphics supporting the “fact” that one party or another was going to win – and resistance would be futile. I find this herd mentality silly and superficial, but it must be effective in some way.

Online Tactics - Infographics/Metrics:

No surprise here, with the takeoff and adoption of infographics over the past four years, these little pieces of data visualization have become commonplace when trying to express complicated information. Both parties utilized an array of different infographics that I thought communicated to the masses effective and easily. Of course what are infographics without a confusing array of numbers designed to lead you to a particular good or bad impression of a candidate? From 12 million jobs, to what the gas prices were four years ago, I think we've digested more media metrics than ever before.

Online Tactics - Mobile: 

In our industry this election will go down as the one where we saw an explosion of mobile applications. Some were educational in nature regarding amendments and positions of each candidate. Others were simply entertainment that utilized each candidate as a game piece in an effort to bring a little levity to a very important milestone. Regardless, although I felt the applications were relatively basic, the results certainly show mobile is a defined tactic that will be utilized in future political persuasion.

I would love to hear from you regarding other online tactics not listed. What do you think worked? What do you think failed? And where do you think the future of politics is going from an interactive, mobile, and advertorial directive?