Panel Detail:
Social Networking in the Political World
 
Wednesday, April 29, 2009  /  08:00 AM - 09:15 AM

View Slides

Speakers
Jason Calacanis, Founder and CEO, Mahalo.com
Mindy Finn, Co-Founder, Engage; former Director of eStrategy, Romney Presidential Campaign
Scott Goodstein, Founder, Revolution Messaging; former External Online Director, Obama for America
Andrew Rasiej, Social Entrepreneur; Futurist; Founder, Personal Democracy Forum
 
Moderator
Marcia Stepanek, Founding Editor-in-Chief and President, News and Information, Contribute Media
 
"Organized minorities are always going to be more powerful than disorganized majorities," panelist Andrew Rasiej said. That makes social media an important path to power.

Because of social media, minority groups and others are represented in a more comprehensive way, panelists said. The Internet generally — and social media specifically — has become a transformative force in how everything in the world is done, including and especially politics.

As the panelists reflected on the use of social media during the 2008 presidential campaign, Jason Calacanis pointed out that Barack Obama was the candidate best -suited to use the medium because of his willingness to interact with and engage all people. Rasiej noted that Obama used the word "we" 10 times more frequently than the other candidates in both the primary and general elections and used the word in a way that resonated with the public.

Mindy Finn suggested that the Republicans lost not because of the Internet per se but because they were perceived as being out of touch. She added that people today are most interested in collaborative and socially engaging platforms online.

The audience was shown two viral videos from the 2008 presidential campaign. Rasiej introduced the term "videocracy," referring to the new wave of individuals creating online videos to convey their unique message to the world. In the next few years, he said, online videos will become a more important medium of communication, even shrinking the space available for pure text.

Scott Goodstein said companies and political campaigns can no longer simply put out a press release and launch ads on radio and television and then assume they are finished. Engagement with people via social media is an essential component of any communications strategy, he said. Goodstein, who worked on the Obama campaign, spent lots time answering questions from individuals and responding to friend requests from Obama supporters on social networking sites.

In addition to large presidential campaigns, social media has the potential to provide a successful platform for other areas. With regards to smaller, local campaigns, the panelists agreed that social media can empower groups that otherwise would be at a disadvantage. Finn said private-sector companies can learn from the experience of successful political campaigns and invest the resources necessary to use social media effectively. Most companies have been slow to adopt social media and actively use online tools, Finn said.

Although social media has become a lucrative venture for many, Rasiej pointed out that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sees his social networking site as a tool to create a new social dynamic, facilitating collaboration and relationships.