The Game Changer: Mitt Romney is my Homeboy

Not one to usually steal borrow ideas, I’ll also be starting my own weekly column, “The Game Changer”, where each week I will take a cynical look at something, someone, someplace that is changing the game in sales, marketing or advertising.

This week – social networking’s impact on the run for president.

If you have learned one thing from the last few presidential elections, it’s that getting the popular vote will not win you elections. If you learned two things from the last few presidential elections it’s that young people are doing a less than stellar job exercising what possibly their most important right. Regardless of whether they’re apathetic to the fact that they can’t create immediate change, or just scared of Michael Moore, young voters are not turning out in the numbers anyone would hope for. Candidates have been desperately trying for years to get through to this demographic, with little or no success–town hall meetings on MTV, the seemingly left-ward leaning Rock The Vote campaign, all efforts that have fallen on deaf ears.  

Welcome to Web 2.0.

Want to “hang” with Mitt? “kick it” with Hillary? “chill” with Giuliani? Or “roll” with Obama? Look no further than MySpace, where you too can be friends with the latest slew of presidential hopefuls. Spearheaded by Barack Obama, candidates are now using MySpace as a credible new outlet in which to communicate with the sub-35 crowd (I’m pretty sure grandma isn’t on MySpace, and if she is, it’s about time you had a talk with her, you probably need to visit more).  

Social networking has changed the game in campaign marketing, enabling candidates to engage users like never before. By forming a community around their efforts, candidates immediately have an interested group to campaign to, while users find themselves feeling like they actually belong to something, making these stoic, often wooden (ok, well maybe not McCain) figures somewhat accessible. You can see the impact in the campaign employee rosters, politicians are hiring Internet Communications Managers and the like to utilize 2.0’s most popular sites, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. to cultivate the new grass roots effort. The move seems to be paying off in spades so far, especially for the Dems with, Clinton’s 43948 friends and Obama’s 21856 friends leading Romney ‘s 14,935 friends, and Guliani’s dismal 3454 friends. The argument could be made that a higher percentage of Democrats are under 35 years old , than Republicans, so young people are responding to the tactic.

 

My fear here is the typical cycle of “cool” will take effect where everything is “cool” until “cool” get exploited to make some money or in this case, earn some votes. Now, I in no way think that 10 to 15 presidential hopefuls will ruin MySpace for the “kiddos” but politicians attempting to be young and hip doesn’t usually go over too well; the memory of Bill Clinton using the word “diss” still haunts my dreams. Time will tell if this is a worthwhile effort by candidates, but in my opinion, anything that will get young people to the polls is fine by me.

 

Let the best man, or woman, win.

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