I only ask because I did, and found it to be pretty un-insightful. OK, if I want up-to-the-minute commentary on social networking and politics I might turn to David Weinberger rather than the newspaper, but from the lumpen headline: “Battle for blogosphere ballot box heats up” to the closing para, little light was shed on what US candidates were actually doing with social networks.
First up the piece told us how many Facebook and MySpace friends the top Democrat and Republican candidates have. Then we got this insight from strategist, Thomas Gensemer, managing director of Blue State Digital:
“You can be putting a message out there in far more powerful ways than just e-mailing or on your own website … Instead of pressing ‘send’ to half a million people today, it’s activating a message that will be active for days thereafter”
Maybe Peter Daou, head of Hilary Clinton’s online campaign team can offer us a better explanation:
“More and more the internet is becoming essential to the political process”
His argument is that:
“Collecting friends is superficial and doesn’t require any real effort on behalf of the friend …Would you rather have 20,000 friends who do nothing, donate nothing, or 10 friends who are active, crazy fundraisers?”
And he has hit the nail on the head. The real question is how do you get your 20,000 friends to become “active, crazy, fundraisers”.
The answer is: you change the way you do politics. I’ve said time and again that simply pushing out the same, tired, two-faced political crap that most 12 year-olds can see through but doing so via exciting new tools like social networks won’t work.
What politicians and their campaign teams need to grasp is the change in power dynamics within social networks. It’s a flat structure rather than a top down or even slightly hierarchical network. Rather than the network being there for them, they are there for the network.
People, like Colin Nagy don’t get it. He expects his 20,000 friends to do something for him or his candidate, when in reality they want him to do something for them. And isn’t that what politics is all about?