New Media President. How Barack Obama Is Using Social Media To Win The White House.
It’s 3.30 am on Saturday morning, the 23rd August 2008, and millions of mobile phones across America were woken up with a TXT message from Obama campaign . Joe Biden has been chosen as running mate. For those who don’t know the background, weeks ago the Democratic nominee has promised supporters that they would be first to know who the Vice Presidential candidate. For this any interested person could register their mobile number on the campaign site.
In an anti-news-cycle strategy, designed to give the bloggers, emailers, MySpacers and FaceBookers time to get the drop on all the C-suite media companies – CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, etc.
The strategy doesn’t end there. When the Democratic convention kicks off on Monday, 25th August 2008, in Denver it will be a transforming moment in the annals of American media and technology, the moment when the new kids on the block eclipse – or at least grab equal footing – with the so-called establishment.
Call it the Obamedia Frenzy. In Denver, the hordes of media from newspaper, magazine and cable and broadcast news outlets will be competing for stories with scores of bloggers and so-called citizen journalists kitted out by digital juggernauts Google, MySpace and YouTube.
There will also be writers from two influential online news sites that did not exist four years ago, The Huffington Post and Politico – not to mention unconventional outlets like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a nightly comedy programme that has become one of the nation’s most trusted news sources.
At a time when many so-called mainstream news organisations in the US are grappling with shrinking newsrooms, shuttered news bureaus and identity crises, the disruptors and interlopers will be in plain view. Google, which owns the website blogger.com as well as YouTube, has set up an 8,000 sq ft facility called The Big Tent next to the arena where most of the convention is being held.
Inside, for only $100, journalists and bloggers get free food, beer and wi-fi for four days, and has a kiosk set up for uploading videos to YouTube. Sounds neat? Sure. And let us not forget that nearly half of all video watched online in the US is seen via Google, and its market capitalisation, at $152billion, is greater than CBS, Time Warner, Walt Disney, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Viacom combined.
MySpace, which was a year-old start-up at the time of the previous convention, claims that about one in four Americans are registered users. It plans a series of events surrounding the convention, some of which will be held at MySpace Cafés where people can go online to update their sites.
Having recently built up a political “channel” on MySpace called Impact, the social network also held a contest with MSNBC to select a “citizen journalist” elected to cover the event and post to their sites. In his video entry, the winner, a 23-year-old from Michigan, joked: “I don’t know, maybe I’ll interview the janitor at the convention.”
Kidding aside, like MTV before it, MySpace (which, like this newspaper, is owned by News Corp) is determined to show that it is a potent societal as well as cultural force – Obama has almost 454,000 “friends” on MySpace, only 30,000 or so fewer than the band Coldplay, and a whole lot more than John McCain’s nearly 64,000.
Lee Brenner, MySpace’s 31-year-old producer of political programming and a former producer at CNN, said that the role of social networks and blogs during the election race is different from more traditional outlets because it is about getting users to participate. “We’re trying to democratise democracy,” he told the Times London. “We’re not trying to just give information.”
Read more in The London Times here . The New York Times talks of how the campaign is changing the face of mobile marketing. An older story in The Guardian is here . Also of interest, Stage design as propaganda tool on Adverlab.