In my experience, I learn of political candidates through traditional media, which is then sometimes complemented by social or digital media. Yet, I recently learned of a local candidate for D.C. Council solely through Twitter. A local guy I follow, Dave Stroup, has nearly dedicated his Twitter account to promoting Bryan Weaver’s upcoming April 26 election.
The former DCist contributor has leveraged his sizable following (1,066 Twitter followers) to engage locals to support Weaver both online and in-person in what is known as the “Draft Weaver” campaign. Stroup links to Weaver’s Twitter account, sends people the website, and promotes Weaver’s political message daily. He then uses Twitter to facilitate offline campaigning, usually collecting petition signatures.
This campaign has clear online calls to action, including adding a name to their list at change.org, participating in their Twitter petition, and joining their email list of supporters. Donation is also a strong theme of the campaign, having raised $1,000 thus far. Yet, while in these preliminary stages of his campaign I wonder if it would be better to filter everyone to one request — the petition, for example.
What also caught my eye is Weaver’s original YouTube video, which I first saw thanks a tweet and post from DCist. It is clever and emphasizes Weaver’s D.C. roots, while presenting him as a likable guy who can make measurable changes for the city.
Weaver’s social media-driven campaign speaks to the transition political campaigns are taking in today’s digital climate. Grassroots efforts that used to begin with neighborhood appearances and grocery store petition signings are now preceded by the creation of website, blog or Twitter account to increase the effectiveness of that first neighborhood appearance. This approach allows the campaign to reach out to potential voters, getting Weaver on their radar, so when a voter comes across someone fundraising or requesting signatures Weaver is already a familiar and trusted name.
Have you come across any political candidates on social media lately? What kind of approached have they used? Were they effective?