Massachusetts to Senate Incumbents: Start Fueling Your Social Media Army Now

Beat the Drum

image by danny.hammontree

Yesterday Massachusetts shocked the nation by voting Uncle Teddy’s senate seat over to a Republican. Almost as shocking as blue Massachusetts going red (not unprecedented, of course – I myself was a Somervillian when we elected Mitt Romney as governor), was  how quickly a previously unknown candidate came from behind, closed the gap and surged into a strong lead. We’ve seen this before… most notably in the much documented campaign of Barack Obama. 

And so, even before the polls were closed, many a pundit had called the race based on Scott Brown’s lead in social media fandom. To say that his use of social media channels won the race is a gross simplification. However, a more direct correlation can be made to the open and rallying stance with which Brown used the channels, relative to the more structured and reserved stance of Martha Coakley.

 My colleague Joe Farren says it well over on the WE Crisis & Issues Management blog:

“I’ve often thought the campaign trail resembles a rock music tour. It moves quickly from city to city and the performer relies on a collection of power chords, fist pumps and over-exposed chorus lines to whip supporters into a genuine lather.”

 This is one of the areas social media excels. Social media tools can be used for many things –  listening and monitoring public opinion, demonstrating transparency, disseminating content – but at its core, social media is about being social. It’s about delivering personality and authenticity, connecting with (not messaging to) others and – for the purpose of political and issue-based campaigns – galvanizing multitudes of individuals into action.

Social media also lends itself to insurgency – fueling a grassroots army. If you’re a long-shot candidate, social media is a no-brainer. If you are an incumbent or front-runner, you’d be wise to think more like an insurgent and begin fueling your social media army early.

 Because if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that social media is going to be a critical tool in the campaign toolboxes of the 2010 mid-term elections.

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