MySpace Advocacy

While looking for some information on the average age of a MySpace or Facebook user,  I just stumbled across a very helpful list of the “ten commandments of MySpace advocacy”.  In the article, it does say that the MySpace users may be getting older.

Why are the users getting older? I wonder if it is because they are seeing the value of social networking and that it can gain supporters or increase business?  A couple of interesting points from the same article:

One of the “commandments” mentions giving away control. If you are using MySpace or Facebook, you cannot control everyone’s profile and all of the comments posted unless you review everything that is proposed as a comment. This could take a huge amount of time if you want to maintain control of the entire content of your page.

Another “commandment” mentions the need to have a dedicated staff to accept friends and monitor content. This is just like any other aspect of business, you have to invest the time and resources in order for it to pay off?

The last “commandment” I think worth mentioning is the sending users/friends to your main organizational website in order to collect their email addresses and to keep track of their numbers. This would make sense, you are trying to build and maintain relationships. And, in just about everything we have read and heard in our class, the email list is key.

 

 

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Facebook and MySpace friends, what do they mean?

We have established that some believe Facebook and MySpace users getting older.   Two of my friends recently mentioned how they had just figured out Facebook and have gotten hooked. Now, both of them are in their late 30s. Is it possible that Facebook is branching out to older audiences? Does the use of Facebook and MySpace by presidential candidates bring older users to the application or is it the other way around?

According to TechCrunch, Facebook users are up 89 percent over last year. And, yes both age groups 25-34 and 35 plus are increasing. But so are the other age groups.

“Over the past year (May ‘06 – May ‘07), Facebook saw an 89% increase in unique visitors to the site at 26,649,000 uniques, with a 143% increase in page views at 15.8 billion. The site’s stickiness has increased and then tapered off at about 190 minutes per average user.”

I think with more users, it will be even more useful for politicians. If you are trying to use either MySpace or Facebook for building relationships and connecting with your constituencies, and more of those people are using the tools, then you should be able to reach out more effectively. Once the connection is made, then you can work on sharing tailored information and also give supporters actionable steps they can take to support a campaign. Supporters can not just go to your homepage and send money, they can organize around the groups and friends at a local level.

Facebook and MySpace users are more than just high school students trying to connect with their friends. While it may be too early to see how the connections made on these networks will help candidates, there is an awful lot of buzz surrounding the issue and I want to see what having one million friends will mean for a presidential candidate.

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I don’t understand the internet, so I will copy from someone who does.

I think I have figured out why John McCain’s disinterest in the internet bothers me so much. It isn’t that he doesn’t know how to email by himself, it is the fact that he doesn’t give the power of the web the credit it deserves. He is disrespectful of the power that citizen journalists, bloggers, and information itself have using the web. He is fairly dismissive of the growing influence or reach of the people who use the web as a major means of communication.

The comparison between the McCain and the Obama websites are one clear example of why you either get it or you don’t when it comes to using the web as a campaign tool. While they seem to have the same kinds of information, the Obama website was an original with a huge focus on what actions an individual or group could take to support the campaign. And, it was much more than just donating money. The web 2.0 tools being used (facebook, youtube, twitter, Obama Everywhere, mybarackobama.com) are genius. The funny thing is that it doesn’t seem like they just signed up and have a blank page—time and effort is being invested in each one of these items listed. The content being generated for these sites is useful, quality information. Not just a superficial account set up with nothing useful.

While it seems to be a little late in the game in my opinion to be playing catch up, McCain recently updated his website and it looks amazingly similar to the Obama website. Apparently I am not the only one who finds the whole thing a little fishy. This blog compares and contrasts the two candidates’ websites. Hysterical.

Another example of McCain lagging behind is the use of youtube. The youtube videos are almost always negative or attacking McCain, parodies. And Obama—three words—Yes We Can.

So, I think I have this out of my system. McCain is miles behind Obama when it comes to communicating online (disseminating information and receiving information) and he will not catch up, no matter how hard he tries. Too bad he underestimated the power of the internet of email of social networking. Or, of even hiring someone who did understand the importance of those tools.

 

 

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Widget or Mashup, I am not sure, but it is still pretty cool.

Animal Planet has an awareness campaign called Animal Planet ROAR. Reach Out. Act. Respond. This campaign is designed to encourage people to make a difference in animal’s lives and to “help make the world a better place for animals – in our communities and in the wild.”

I first researched this campaign for a class last year. While doing research for our current final project on social media, the internet, and political campaigns, I remembered one particular aspect of the ROAR campaign that I thought would translate well to a political campaign.

The Promise Map. This map which is probably a mashup and not a widget is used to show individuals how they fit into this big picture campaign and it also holds them somewhat accountable (or gives them credit, depending on how you look at it) for the actions they have pledged to accomplish in support of the campaign.

A similarity between what I think the Obama campaign has done right and this ROAR campaign—they both give individuals or groups very concrete activities that could be accomplished in support of the cause. They go way beyond just raising or donating money. They list things in the Animal Planet ROAR campaign that even children could do. They highlight a montly activity and list dozens more. They range from simply signing a pledge to be more aware of the needs of animals to volunteering at a local shelter. The list goes on and on.

But wait…back to the mash up Promise Map. It is a yahoo map that can show you the people in your community who have signed up and promised to help. You can connect with these fellow supporters and even work together. You also get credit for the promise or actions you have pledged in support of the campaign. It really is impressive to see all the little color coded flags (donate money, volunteer, raise awareness, adopt a pet) and read about what others are doing.

Anyway, check it out. It just may inspire you to make a promise too.

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What is a widget and how can I use one?

 As far as I have read, widgets are little pieces of code that you can use on your website to make your website more visually appealing as well as to help generate some content. According to wikipedia, the original widgets were advertising banners and hit counters.

The calendar on the side of a blog or the technorati link count box (number of blog responses) are both examples of widgets.

One of the most used facebook widgets is the facebook desktop widget.  It lists of users tons of widgets for facebook. From the basic dashboard with the number of friend requests, pokes, messages, and groups, it is a perfect at a glance to get started when you log into facebook.

You can also post a Forbes widget, to track stocks of course and and even Dogster . Dogster is used by pet lovers who put the Dogster Rescue Application on their website to feature a photo of dogs that need good homes. If you are a cat person, you won’t be left out, they have Catster as well.

 The appeal of widgets? Well, they are mostly fun. And if they have other purposes, it is sometimes hard to tell. The presidential candidates are using widgets on their websites. Obama and McCain widgets are all over. From a simple Obama button with the campaign’s logo and photo to a list of the current news and videos, you can show and share the support for either candidate. My favorite is the Obama timeline, it scrolls through the significant events of his career and looks pretty cool.

 

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Understanding the power of action

While they may not be new tactics, something has just clicked for me. I have just realized that Barack Obama’s campaign has taken the advice outlined in Mousepads, Shoeleather, and Hope Lessons from the Howard Dean Campaign for the Future of Internet Politics by Zephyr Teachout and Thomas Stretter, et al.

Within the first few pages of this book, the authors stress the importance of highly tactical specific actions when asking for support. An example is that with every email sent, the action or link to a specific action (give money here, sign this petition) was put right up front. Two great examples of the way the Barack Obama campaign is calling supporters to action:

The first example seems simple, but I think could be underestimated. Take a look at the number of times a specific action is listed on the campaign’s home page .

Any voter can find something they can contribute within a few clicks, whether it is making friends and connecting with other supporters or hosting events or fundraising—there is always something to be done. Specific actions made very easy for the average American voter.

The second example is the 50 state strategy. Obama often asks for not only support of his campaign, but also support of the democratic party as a whole. With the 50 state grassroots movement, Obama is taking another pointer from the Dean campaign and is working to have a presence in all 50 states to advance the Democratic party’s goals as a whole. The reach has surprised everyone, the fact that he has staff in every state of the union is extraoridnary. “Grassroots movements are the most powerful way to bring about lasting change”

Barack Obama is doing an amazing job reaching out to American voters about the importance of taking action and as recently yesterday (even though he is traveling to Europe and the Middle East) he reminded supporters of the tools available to allow them to become involved. He reminded youtube viewers of things such as my.barackobama.com. Yet another way for them to act—these tools are a way of acknowledging the value of the smaller, local supporters. The importance of handing power over to the individual voters to make changes on a national level.

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Micro and Macro—either way they are gonna get you!

 So far, I would say that microtargeting is all about tailoring messages to smaller segments of an audience and macrotargeting is about having a more broad message that would apply to more segments of an audience. They both seem very straightforward.

Would these techniques work on me, yes. They have been working on me—when I get certain catalogs or direct marketing pieces in the mail, probably even when I get spam in my inbox.

The questions are (in my mind): is this technique/tool useful enough to spend the kind of money necessary to use microtargeting effectively?

I just don’t know if I would want presidential candidates spending millions of dollars on finding out what I watch on pay per view or what kind of soda I buy.

From the NY Times Article, What’s for Dinner, “For example, Dr Pepper is a Republican soda. Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic. So are most clear liquors, like gin and vodka, along with white wine and Evian water. Republicans skew toward brown liquors like bourbon or scotch, red wine and Fiji water.  When it comes to fried chicken, he said, Democrats prefer Popeyes and Republicans Chick-fil-A.”

I happen to know a registered Republican who prefers Popeyes and Coke, where does that fit in?

The danger would probably be using just this type of categorization and no other research or data. As with any type of information, it needs to be put in context and validated for it to be useful. Another thing that worries me is the cost associated with the data mining and analysis necessary for microtargeting. Should millions of dollars be spent by each candidate on finding out what kind of cereal an individual buys? Could that money be put to better use?

According to Susan Davis, as of June 2008,  the 2008 presidential campaign has resulted in nearly $195 million of political television advertising airing across the nation! That is $195 million on television ads alone, what happens if each candidate decides to spend that much on additional microtargeting, gets a HUGE database full of information and then doesn’t analyze it correctly?!

I am still on the fence and need to read a LOT more about this topic to decide whether or not I think it is worth the time, money, effort…I can find arguments either way.  Some say it works and is worth it, some say it doesn’t work.  I guess it is like everything else, it depends on how the numbers are read and who is paying for the research.

 

 

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