Digital Shifts

This week our readings focused on how to communicate with audiences – including optimizing an online presence, levels of interaction (1D, 2D, 3D) and bringing a customer-centered approach to voters.

While reading Dr. Rosenblatt’s four-part blog series, “Campaign Dimensions: 3-D Strategies,” I began to think about the digital shifts that campaign workers have had to adjust to and account for in recent years.

  • Voter power: Before the internet gave each voter’s voice the possibility of infinite amplification public-facing messages were more easily controlled. As Dr. Rosenblatt pointed out, in today’s digital climate an individual can take a campaign into their own hands and drag the message in whatever direction they like, on whatever platform they like. This creates a “voter-driven challenge to campaigns seeking to distribute its message.”
  • People on the receiving end of campaign messages are presented with a myriad of options. They can receive the message and file it away in their knowledge bank – satisfied with a 1D interaction. They could also engage in 2D interaction, responding to a message or taking an action. To me these levels of interaction lend themselves to the “old” way of communication – receiving and reacting to information. Then enters 3D interaction. After receiving a message a voter could present that information to an entirely new audience via email, instant message, Twitter, video, etc. When repackaging that content to their network, which could range from one to one million, they can add their own perspective – positive or negative. And therein lies the “voter-driven challenge.”
  • Segmentation of channels: Until the internet offered us tools like email and Facebook voters received messages through typical channels: in-person, television, newspapers, radio, with a few variables peppered in. The number of channels used to reach a voter today has grown exponentially, and with it the nuances campaign directors have to be cognizant of when utilizing these channels.
  • Some people transitioning where they receive information online, email to blogs for example, while others are “compartmentalizing their channels.” This means they are designating certain types of information be received through some channels while other types are limited to different channels. A message in an email newsletter might have been the best way to reach your target audience last year, but timely updates on Twitter might be necessary to get the same response today. As Dr. Rosenblatt mentioned in his C-SPAN video, maybe a posting to a World of Warcraft message board is necessary to reach a sect of your target. Campaigns must get creative to keep up with the increasing amount of available information channels.
  • With these shifts in channel preferences have come additional intricacies that campaigns need to be aware of. People can be picky about how they are contacted – especially if they have made changes in their channels to avoid being contacted. A campaign posting to a Facebook page about Breast Cancer Fundraising might reach a philanthropic audience who would support your healthcare stance – but it very well may be deemed inappropriate and actually hurt your effort. Respectful delivery, as Dr. Rosenblatt put it, is extremely important.

As we pointed out on our discussion boards this week, lessons from The Cluetrain Manifesto, especially its 95 Theses, can be bridged from markets and customers to campaigns and voters. One section I found particularly interesting was the chapter entitled, “Markets are Conversations.” As I read the history of the market – the shake hands, feel this cotton market – I began to think that this loosely matched up political campaign. In the end, a sale equals a vote. Then I read the declarative statement, “Every advertisement, press release, publicity stunt, and giveaway engineered by a Marketing department is colored by the fact that it’s going to a public that doesn’t ask to hear it.”

I think politics has an advantage over business because that sentence is more or less true when speaking about brooms or new computer software. But, when you watch an ad or read a press release about a candidate – someone whose opinions could shape the way you live your life – you want to hear it. You might not proactively seek it out but you will most likely be more receptive to it if you think the content could directly affect your future.

Another practical reading from this week was “Online Politics 101.” It served as a step-by-step guide for how to carry out a successful online campaign while also providing a humorous voice that was easy to relate to and understand. I feel like I can apply the lessons from “Online Politics 101” to my issue advocacy efforts at work right now, especially the blogger-relations section. That is an area that I do not have a lot of experience with at work and am looking to expand my knowledge base. The methods for finding useful blogs, such as seeing which bloggers link to each other, were very helpful. Are there any pointers from this reading that you can apply to your day job?

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