New Media's Relationship with Politics

In 2008, President Obama’s presidential campaign changed political marketing in various ways, but as a digital media agency we were intrigued with his use of social and mobile media to connect and garner support from the American people. After witnessing the overwhelming amount of success Barack Obama had with his voters, 2010 midterm election candidates on both sides of the aisle are embracing the power of new media, such as geo-targeted mobile ads, social websites and appealing designs that evoke a sense of sociability and openness, to connect with voters in time for election day.

Similar to President Obama’s mobile marketing efforts, candidates running in the 2010 midterm elections have stepped up their mobile advertising through geo-targeted mobile ads. Rep. Michele Bachmann used this tactic to target Minnesotans specifically at the state fair this past summer and as the Star Tribune notes, “campaigns are spending more of their budgets on sophisticated web ads that zero in on specific locations and demographics,” and rightly so. As we discussed in a past blog, mobile phones are a hyper-personal medium. Targeting smart phone users based on age, location, gender, search terms and residence can create awareness among groups of voters that matter most to a campaign’s overall success.

In addition to geo-targeted mobile ads, political parties have increased their social media use (of note, Republicans now hold eight of the top ten Capitol Hill Twitter spots, while 300 members of congress have turned to Facebook to stay in touch with the voting public) and taken steps to create community websites for constituents to interact with the political party and fellow voters. This past May, the GOP did this very thing when launching America Speaking Out. Its purpose is to solicit policy ideas from community members, who then vote for their favorite policy idea in order to create the GOP’s “Pledge to America.” The integration with Facebook and Twitter take this concept a step further as community members are able to share a policy idea and/or vote with their network of friends.

Finally, it doesn’t just end with new media channels. Design now plays an integral role in making sure the brand of a political party is open and inviting, encouraging a stronger social relationship. America Speaking Out moved in this direction with their website design and color palette in order to speak to voters who are unhappy with current leadership. Another intriguing web design change came from the Democratic National Committee. Armed with a new logo (reminiscent of Facebook and Twitter icons) and website redesign, the party’s new look was created to reflect what the DNC wishes to represent to America – “a community.”

Based on our observations of the new social media and mobile methods being used for the 2010 midterm elections quickly approaching, it’s obvious that new media is changing the face of political campaigning. With that said, we are confident that the new media tactics and strategies used today will empower politicians and political parties to expand their social reach by creating a network of supporters who will help spread their message to the American people.