Every time I think I know everything about an article for Internet Advocacy; I am proven wrong. Since Principles of Strategic Communication, I thought I knew everything about the Obama campaign’s use of technology, but when I read about it this time I realized how applicable it is to any election, national or local. This very up-to-date article undeniably proves the purpose of my blog when it states “despite the stereotypes, the days of the computer as a young person’s preserve are long gone – the majority of people 65 and up now connect electronically at least on occasion.” I can definitely testify to this statement due to a personal experience.

I recently got accepted to intern at the Kennedy Center this summer, and I am often running errands to the different offices. One inventory errand brought me to the visitor’s center where the retired ladies sit. When I approached the front desk, they were conversing about the D.C. Mayor Election that is scheduled to take place on November 2, 2010. When I asked them if they needed more pamphlets or brochures, it was close to ten minutes until they finally looked up from their desk computers and answered yes. When I walked around to take an inventory, I took a quick glance at what they were looking at. It happened to be the website of the mayor candidate, Leo Alexander. Along with Delany, I firmly believe the Internet is sealing the Generation Gap, yet this is just the beginning. Now I shall talk about my learning and applications from the Obama 2008 Campaign.

The numbers of people involved in this past election were astonishing and almost hard to fathom. On MyBarackObama.com or MyBO, Obama’s own social network had 2 million profiles, 250,000 office events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created. If I get a job campaigning for a local or national election, I need to remember how important it is to communicate to my audience and remind they are an essential part of the election process. Also, this article reminded me that television advertisements for local elections are probably not the best use of money; there are a lot of free tools out there that would be better in the long run.

The social media lessons from the Obama’s campaign were short, succinct, very applicable and easy to remember. They included to start early, build to scale, innovate where necessary, 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 and integrate online advocacy into every element of the campaign.

As easy as these steps sound, they are useless unless I commit them to memory, which I must. Too often, campaigns have great ideas and messages, but they forget them once the heart of the election is under way. The Obama Campaign is an exception to this prototype. They wanted to make the Internet the focal point, and they succeeded with flying colors. Not only did they make a website, but they utilized email, created a social network site (MyBarackObama.com), multi-channel online outreach (not just Facebook but also MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and more), Grassroots outreach and text message/cell phones.

In conclusion, I agree with Delany, campaigns must transform themselves into movements driven by mass enthusiasm if they hope to win elections. “The Internet gives individual people and groups large and small the potential loud voice” and is the equation for success in modern-age campaigning.

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