Star Tribune political reporter Bob Von Sternberg had a piece yesterday about online politics finally coming into its own. My Tunheim colleague Pat Lilja and I discussed online politics with Von Sternberg for the piece, and, you know, that’s always fun because who doesn’t love to talk shop?
For years we’ve heard that this will be the year the online politics comes into its own while the final result proved underwhelming. Things are different this time.
As Von Sternberg points out, to date, much of the focus of online politics has been on fundraising. That certainly is a huge part of how the Internet can make a difference in an Internet campaign.
There are three things that have changed: 1) Citizen branding, 2) social networking, 3) and Millennials.
As I’ve written before, never before has it been possible for an individual to brand a candidate to a world wide audience by essentially creating their own TV ad. Among the results thus far, we’ve had one candidate kicked out of the race (Senator Allen) and another’s sex appeal punched up (The Obama Girl).
The social networking aspect should not be underestimated. Due to this remarkable technology that includes status updates and friends lists,Â political messages that are distributed through these trusted networks can efficiently gain traction. Social networks is word-of-mouth on steroids.
In one particular way, online politics is the same old thing, just larger. What, after all, is politics if not networking? Mixing online social networking with politics is a natural.
Lastly, as I’ve said before, Millennials are having and will continue to have a major influence this election season. Having grown up online, they are at ease with and know how to exploit social media. They have built the campaigns’ infrastructure and are exploiting it to its fullest.
It is noteworthy that the three examples Von Sternberg cites include one Xer and two Millennials. These kids turn out to vote. And they bring their friends with them.