Are your voters hip enough for social media?

My friend Dr.Mark Drapeau wrote an interesting article for Slant asking people: Are Your Voters Hip Enough To Use the Hottest Online Social Networks?

In the article he appropriately asks:

Sure, using the social web to empower self-organizing voters and raise piles of money from many small donors worked for candidate Obama in 2008. But how applicable is that model to future presidential elections? What about governorships? Congressional seats? Mayoral races in small cities

He takes on the battle of the ages – to MySpace or not to MySpace. He makes his case on which of the “big three” is the winner: Twitter, Facebook or MySpace.

As someone who has worked on Capitol Hill and on several campaigns I agree with Mark “the best tools for geeks are not necessarily the best tools for a campaign.” Yet I believe on assessing the situation, knowing your demographic and using a wide net. Different social media sites attract different personalities and different kinds of voters. Using them to effectively spread your message is important.

Too many Members of Congress, and their staffs, are afraid of new media and don’t understand how to use it. I can remember a long chat with a staff member in one particular office who told me they weren’t interested in blogging or using social networking tools. Their argument was people in the district weren’t into “that sort of thing.” They also made the case that the Congressman had an image in the district, and another in D.C. I scratched my head and wondered if they ever heard of this thing called the Internet and search engines. Not surprisingly that Member of Congress lost his seat.

The reality is we live in a different world, where we all have to be citizen journalists. Social media helps candidates, congressman, and anyone promote their message. Technology helps give voters another layer to a campaign and the candidate. It empowers the voter and helps them find information important to them.

Clearly all campaigns and candidates must strike a balance between technology and real human interaction. One side can not overtake the other. The bottom line is using on-line social networks is not only smart, but essential.

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