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Modern Campaigns Must Use Social Media

April 4, 2011

Obama changed the election game with his 2008 run for the White House. His web presence was everywhere compared to that of John McCain, who looked like someone still running Netscape and not much more advanced than searching things in Google. Obama’s marketing team swarmed the internet, with him hosting a Facebook, twitter, and more. He accepted questions via YouTube. Obama modernized how presidential candidates will have to interact and engage the public.

With 2012 looming, Obama looks to be returning to his old social media ways as he gears up for the oncoming election. Many tech blogs, including TechCrunch, reported this morning on Obama’s new Facebook button. It’s a campaign that uses the loyalty of supporters to join the Obama club and then invite friends. It hits on the fundamental principle of social media to share things with friends.

The site’s word choice is, however, strange. With Facebook posts asking, “I’m in – are you?” the message is vague but promising. It’s an invitation to a club. It’s a term that is already setting up sides. For Obama, you’re in, or you’re out. What is this high school? The phrasing calls up the image of a cafeteria with the cool kids, led by Obama, sitting at one table while all the others are divided around him.

It shows power that people would want to be with him. But really, when we look back, who wanted to be at the cool table? Especially with Obama receiving many mixed reviews as of late, it seems like his cool table is becoming less and less popular. What happens when someone gives you flack for being “in?” Division worked for Obama last time when people rallied behind his promises of hope, but will people fall behind him like they did before, or will people be looking to the other tables for the kids who will really get something done?

As long as Obama’s the cool kid, he may yet again be the king of political social media. But if someone rises up against him who’s just as capable and can capture some of the swagger that made Obama such an attractive candidate in 2008, this reelection may not be the cakewalk it has sometimes appeared to be.

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