Posts tagged "Politics"

On Gay Marriage, Equal Rights, and Speaking Out

Yesterday’s news that President Obama is now publicly supporting gay marriage has brought up a lot of chatter and caused some emotions to run high throughout the nation. When I heard the news, I was enjoying a respite from city life up in my friend’s recording studio. We had discussed the North Carolina amendment vote the night before and my heart went out to my friends that have campaigned aggressively to block this amendment from passing.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of fear and even some hatred that drives people to create barriers for others in order for them to feel secure themselves.

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How Does Social Media Affect Elections?

Today is a big day in Atlanta politics, and I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the topic of social media’s role in politics.  I won’t be getting into the candidates or my affiliation here, but the issue that I want to discuss is how important it is to use all the tools that are available to engage people through the channels they are already using.

VoteLast year, I wrote a post titled ‘Is This the Facebook and YouTube Election?‘ where I mentioned that Facebook and YouTube changed the dynamics of the Presidential election of 2008 in a profound manner.  Many more people were engaged in the process than ever before, and there was an outlet to connect with people in a way that we had never seen in the political process.  The Atlanta Mayoral race reminds me of that dynamic, and perhaps there is even MORE engagement this time.  I find this to be remarkable because local politics rarely gets this kind of attention.  Sure, people get fired up during a Presidential election, but the city level races are rarely in the limelight in this way.

What we’re seeing in the Atlanta race is a willingness to discuss the issues that the community is passionate about, and there has been a great deal of back and forth about the merits of the individual candidates in social channels.  Interestingly, in my conversations with friends, neighbors, etc., very few of those that I’ve spoken with have actually watched the candidates debate on TV.  There have been several televised debates, but many people are simply not tuning in.  But these same people are on Facebook constantly and are engaged in wall posts, video posts, etc. that relate to the race.  There have been several threads that I’ve participated in that have significant engagement with people that I know, and people that I’ve never met before.  Great information is being spread, and hopefully it’s helping people in their decision in the voting booth.  Many people have said they are on the fence, and I can’t think of a better way to get them off the fence than engaging them directly with information and opinions through a trusted friend network on Facebook.

There’s a lesson in this for brands.  People are engaging with each other in these spaces and for many of them it’s the primary way they engage with brands.  In this example, the political candidates are each their own brand, and it will be particularly interesting to see how the candidates use of social media factors into the results of the election.  It’s an incredibly tight race, and they are both doing what they can to get their supporters out to the polls.  There is a difference however – one has a much more robust following on Twitter and Facebook, while the other one is a relative newcomer to the scene.  There was a similar dynamic during the Presidential election last year.  I’m very interested to see if the same pattern holds this time around.

What lessons do you take from this?  Have you been a part of a political discussion through social media that would never have happened otherwise?  How do you think social media affects elections?

Is this the Facebook and YouTube election?

We are at an interesting junction in history right now, and it is fascinating to see how social media is shaping the political landscape in this election cycle.  Remember, in 2004 Facebook had just launched and was open to college students only, and YouTube didn’t even exist!  These two sites alone have totally changed the game and we are now in a new era of information sharing.  The old days where politicians got away with the occasional gaffe as long as the media didn’t pick up on it are over.  Now, practically every second of their day is recorded and posted almost instantly on YouTube and Twitter for the world to see and hear.  And of course on Facebook, the sharing of information and personal beliefs is occurring on a staggering scale.  Friends that I would have NEVER had political discussions with are engaging on Facebook.  In fact, instead of a 2-way dialog between 2 people, Facebook enables a multi-way dialog with a vast number of people.

Take for instance the status comments.  When someone on Facebook posts an observation or political view on Facebook, his or her whole friend network has the potential to see it.  If people comment back, not only does the original person receive alerts, but also everyone who comments on it receives an alert as well.  All of the sudden, what we think about the process can be expressed and discussed more easily with much larger groups of people.  Breaking down the physical and geographic barriers has huge implications, as we are not confined to hearing the prevailing beliefs of our particular corner of the world.

I believe that we are in the midst of a major shift in how people perceive politics.  No longer is it just for the older crowd that reads the newspaper and watches 60 Minutes.  Now everyone is talking – the question is: who is paying the most attention?

What do YOU think?  Is social media going to make a difference in this election?