Campaigns Missed Social Media Opportunities
I want to answer Gov. Jerry Brown's very good question about the "non-TV voter," posed about two weeks before Election Day – but first, I ought to address the handful of victory-lap news stories in the national media detailing a number of President Barack Obama's political campaign staffers' and consultants' use of social media, big data, analytics and behavioral psychology.
The descriptions of Obama's campaign efforts both energize and disappoint me. They excite me because, for the first time, a campaign has attempted to disrupt typical politics with the use of digital tools. But the stories disappoint me because in the state home to Silicon Valley, it begs the question: Why isn't this California-bred talent and technology being put to use on California campaigns?
Perhaps that question is better asked in reverse: Why aren't California political campaigns employing digital solutions to their full potential? Our state's 11 ballot propositions alone were funded by more than one-third of a billion dollars, but an embarrassingly small percentage of that was spent online. And no candidate in California made a mark online this year the way we all intuitively know is possible.
The companies I run were involved in offering digital solutions to more than 300 campaigns across the country and across the political spectrum this election cycle, so I can tell you this much: No political campaigns in California are using digital tools to their full potential.
Social media and other digital campaign tools hold the power to truly transform politics – to reach individual voters, turn out supporters in powerful numbers and raise money from nontraditional donors. They can also give birth to a new kind of candidate and present issues in an authentic way, putting candidates in touch with citizens for meaningful exchanges, and responding rapidly to questions and criticism.
Instead, in 2012, California voters are still seeing a decades-old approach to campaigning, in which the lion's share of donors' money is spent on ...