Social Networking and Local Campaigns

Sites like BlueNC, Facebook, Pam's House Blend, DailyKos and Twitter have helped open up a whole new avenue for reaching voters and many candidates are taking advantage of these new tools - tools that are newer to some than to others. Lately, though, I've overheard more than a few local people claiming to be experts in social media and online campaigning - people I've never heard of - and they're claiming that new media and online social networking play a more important role in successful campaigns than they actually do. Candidates will do well to remember that any middle school student can network a facebook page.

As important as BlueNC has been in spreading the news about several North Carolina candidates, the last thing you will ever hear any of us say is that we won a campaign for someone by blogging about them or running their ads. We have played a fairly large role in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, we have connected hundreds of volunteers to campaigns and candidates and we have helped shine a brighter spotlight on issues of importance. We have networked with other blogs and political sites to make this happen but we have never been the sole force behind a winning candidate.

Political blogs, social networking sites and other online resources have earned a spot in the modern political campaign. We are affordable and we are effective when used to complement traditional grassroots efforts. In a low dollar campaign nothing beats knocking on doors, candidate phone calls and live caller phone banks - not even the fanciest political blog or Facebook page.

In the early days there was little strategy. We wrote blog posts and sought out candidates, activists and voters. We proved our value and our relevance to the modern campaign. We continue to earn our place as more candidates become open to the importance of online efforts.

Some campaigns are using blogs and social networking sites appropriately. Jake Gellar-Goad with Mark Kleinschmidt's mayoral campaign has done a great job combining Facebook and multiple blog sites to help organize volunteer efforts. Gordon Smith and Jay Ovittore are both running for City Council in different cities and are both old hats at blogging. Based on the alerts I'm receiving from both campaigns, they also understand the value of traditional grassroots campaign efforts.

I'm not trying to diminish the importance of new media and social networking but I think it is extremely important that candidates not get dazzled when someone waxes poetic about the importance of all the new online tools in the box. We've worked hard to secure a place among the other campaign techniques, but nothing replaces good old fashioned hard work and direct voter contact.

Comments

It sounds strange to call us a "new tool"

We've been around for four years and some candidates are pros at utilizing online campaigns. I think we have greater value to statewide campaigns and those for federal office, but we can still be helpful to local candidates.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

You know what's funny?

For years I avoided blogging because I thought it would make me even more of a hermit than I already was. But blogging at BlueNC has encouraged me to stray from my cave a lot more often than I did before. I've met activists, candidates and public servants, and I've traveled this beautiful state more in the last couple of years than I had the more than three decades prior to that. And you folks made that happen.

This "link" between the real world and the virtual world, between ideas and the implementation of those ideas, is where online resources like BlueNC become valuable. We may not be able to win elections for candidates, but we bring issues sharper into focus, and help solutions for those issues evolve into something that just might work. I've seen it. I've seen campaign literature, media ads and speeches that were flavored by things discussed here, and that translates into impacting the wider electorate.

Of course, it also helps when you've got a Betsy Muse doing miraculous things like coaxing Congress Critters and Guben...Goober...candidates for Governor here for live blogs and such. You're the best, sweetie. :)

Awww....thanks, Steve

James and I make a pretty good team. He has worked hard to market BlueNC and maintain a constant flow of ideas showing up on the front page. I think part of why it works is that we don't always agree. Actually, that may make it work better.

We also can't give enough credit to Robert, Lance, and John in the early days...and then Greg, you, Linda, Linda, Leslie...well..you know. This place works because through the years enough people who really care to make it work stop by and add their voices.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

As much as I...

am using all the new tools for campaigning, and love using them; I am still going out and getting direct voter contact. I walked today from 2:30 until 7:30. Door to door gets you more votes then any other method of voter contact.

I will be canvassing all weekend as well...so if anyone wants to get involved offline with my campaign, I need canvassers and I also need people to man the polls on Tuesday for my primary. If you are interested in helping please e-mail me your contact info and what you can help with to voteovittore@gmail.com

I appreciate the continued support of BlueNC and the community it has created.

Thanks in Advance- I am off to soak my feet!

Jay Ovittore

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Door to door...can't stress enough how well important that is

We still run into people who remember mother knocking on their door in past elections. You will earn their vote in future years because you knocked on their door today. Keep up the good work, Jay.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Speaking of the

Mark Kleinschmidt for mayor campaign... I can never turn down an opportunity to plug a volunteer event...especially since we've already received some extra volunteers as a direct result of posting here.

Canvassing – Walking Dogwood Acres (Southern Village area) SATURDAY OCT 3RD 12:30
http://www.new.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154427742128

Mark Kleinschmidt for Mayor (Group)
http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91222152476

Campaign Website Calendar (if you ever want to see Mark speak, ask him a question, or just cheer him along at a forum or debate)
http://www.mark4mayor.com/calendar/

Festifall
When: Sun, October 4, 1pm – 6pm
Where: Downtown Chapel Hill

The event is tomorrow at 12:30, and all the details are at the event link. And you can join the group to get invites to all future events as they are created.

I have to say facebook has been a wonderful tool. It is no replacement for calling people you know, bugging your friends to go, and offering rides to anyone that needs it to get volunteers where they need to be, but is has been a great place to coalesce people due to the breadth of its use. I can post on college message boards, on pamshouseblend.com, on orangepolitics.com, here at bluenc.com, myspace, twitter, on college newspaper websites, and on other sites & the one site that most everyone seems to use in common is facebook.

Just tonight, at around 8pm on a Friday, when a lot of people already have plans, having the facebook tool as a resource allowed me to throw together a last minute sign making party within half an hour for the new signs that came in, such that we were easily able reach out to enough people instantly to tackle 100+ signs with almost no advanced notice. The facebook event tool is also nice in that we can look a day in advance at the confirmed attendees for a planned event such as tomorrows canvassing, see that we will have about 10 to 12 volunteers, and know about how we will need to divide up the various neighborhood canvassing maps.

Social networking is no replacement for good old fashioned campaigning, but it is a nice supplement, and it can make being a volunteer coordinator in a "college town" worlds easier.

Like I said....you are doing an excellent job

using new media/social networking tools to enhance a grassroots campaign.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Canvassing Sat Chapel Hill

Canvassing – Walking Estes Hills
http://www.new.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161475333155

The mayoral debate is tomorrow, early voting starts in just 10 days, so we need to reach all the voters we can right now. Check out the link if you think you might be able to volunteer on Sat!

Blogging and Social Networking is Cool but nothing Is more rewar

Getting out in the community fighting something or someone you believe in is the best. I started getting active last year and I created my own blog really just to blow off steam. Then I started reading other blogs and I realized that I was alone out here. Where I'm at in Lenoir County it always felt like I was the only Liberal in the State. But BlueNC allowed me to hear other liberals in the state. It made me realize that I needed to get out in the community more and Put a face to the name. People remember someones face a lot more than they remember someones name. To be affective at this you have to have your finger on the pulse of the streets!

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

Interesting Post

As those who know me here realize, I have worked on/for several campaigns in various areas and in doing so I have learned one certain truth: the candidate doesn't pick the blog, the blog picks the candidate. Sometimes the chosen candidate wins, sometimes not.

The advice I have given, and no, I am not a professional, generally goes like this:

1- A webpage is necessary.

2- The web alone will not win you the election. Grassroots is key.

3- Actively engage the blogs. Do not use or abuse them as a free advertising tool.

4- When engaging in online fundraising, focus on the policy rather than the money. I would encourage candidates not to even mention money on the blogs without some specific incident that calls for it.

5- Dance with those that brung ya. Whether you win or lose the electiion, you keep the blog informed and engaged. Fresh candidates could really use information gleaned from those who came short. For those who win, the next election comes faster than you think.

6- If you want to go online, DIY. Letting someone handle press releases, etc is fine. But if you tweet or Facebook or write a blog post, do so personally. Bloggers tend to know the difference between shit and Shinola.

Those are my thoughts anyway.

Digital Shoe Leather

Betsy,

You're right to say that online strategy is only one arrow in the quiver of any campaign. My city council campaign has effectively utilized social media to promote events, recruit volunteers, disseminate message, and get out the vote. We've also contacted about 10,000 voters by knocking on doors and making calls. I've made probably 3,000 calls myself.

If you utilize social/new media, couple it with effective ground strategy and traditional media strategy, while creating and attending public events, you can win. I hope to prove that again tomorrow and Nov. 3rd.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Good luck, tomorrow!

I wish I could be there to greet voters for you.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.