An alert to GOP 2012 hopefuls: using social media doesn’t make you “cool”

This post follows Newt Gingrich’s announcement on Facebook and Twitter that he would be making an announcement on tonight’s Sean Hannity show about running for president. Newt is only one of many GOP hopefuls hopelessly using social media to “engage” the younger, Internet-oriented generation. Here are the top five things for Newt and the other possible GOP candidates to keep in mind as they head into the 2012 election…

Photo courtesy of goddiscussion.com

1. The political game has changed, and will continue to change, with every elections, thanks to the Internet. For years, candidates could rely on tried and true methods like direct mailings and door-to-door canvassing to engage possible voters. However, since Howard Dean utilized meetup.com in 2004 to connect voters online, the Internet has changed those traditional methods. In 2008, President Obama utilized the power of the Internet to engage voters both young and old, giving him the edge over John McCain. During November’s 2010 midterm elections, the same social media strategies that worked in 2008 didn’t necessarily work in 2010. With the Internet developing by the minute, politicians are now charged with the endless task of developing new and unique ways to engage voters online.

2. Obama didn’t win in 2008 because he knew how to use Facebook. I don’t mean to diminish the commendable work the Obama campaign did in 2008 in terms of using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, mybarackobama.com, and other online mediums, to connect and engage voters. However, the hope, vitality, and youth he promoted online was equally promoted offline. He wasn’t a “virtual candidate.” He still had political rallies, talked to traditional news reporters, and utilized television to communicate his message. Social media is obviously the “it” medium right now, but a company cannot get on social media and automatically be liked by the throngs of the younger, viral generation. Cultivating a strong social media presence is a process that takes time to develop and maintain. If you have “old” and “tired” ideas, yet try to promote them on social media, you won’t be #winning with voters anytime soon…

3. Social media does not make you young (or geniune). So, hire someone who’s young to do it for you. In 2008, McCain was continuously behind in the social media game, and he never quite caught up with his opponent. Obama was notorious for being attached to his “crackberry” whereas McCain was portrayed as ancient and disconnected. If he wasn’t connected to the Internet himself, people weren’t going to connect, engage, and converse with him online, knowing that it wasn’t genuine. GOPers — do yourself a favor, and hire a team to first teach you about the Internet and then develop a social media strategy that revolves around connecting and sharing, rather than telling and “announcing.” Newt –tweeting a few times a day won’t make us forget that you helped impeachment against Bill Clinton or that you’ll be 69 when taking oath of office.

4. What’s with the pre-announcement announcement? It started with Tim Pawlenty who tweeted a link about how he would make a “live” announcement on Facebook, in which he told fans and followers that he was assembling an “exploratory committee” for President.  In April, Mitt Romney also announced via YouTube and Twitter that he was assembling an “exploratory committee” for President. And then we have Donald Trump, who announced that he will be making an announcement about his possible presidential candidacy on the finale of his show, The Apprentice, in May. And today, we had Newt announce via Twitter and Facebook that he would be making an announcement tonight on Fox News. I suppose these social media announcements are meant to stir publicity and curiosity in the public. But, honestly, isn’t enough enough? You’re either running or you’re not…

5. Don’t ignore traditional communication methods. It began with newspapers, then radio, then TV, then 24-hour cable news networks, and now the Internet. However, each new medium hasn’t displaced the old one. We still read newspapers (perhaps on a screen rather than in print), listen to the radio, watch TV, and now use the Internet. A candidate that focuses only on one medium won’t be wholly successful on the national stage.

How successful do you think these GOPers are in terms of using social media? Do you believe they will be able to engage a generation like Obama did in 2008 to take back the presidency?

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About Abby Ecker

PR pro and healthy living blogger in the First State
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2 Responses to An alert to GOP 2012 hopefuls: using social media doesn’t make you “cool”

  1. Pingback: An alert to GOP 2012 hopefuls: using social media doesn't make you … | Midia Social

  2. Alicia says:

    the pre announcement announcement is so pathetic. it smacks of a small child shouting “hey look at me guys!” it shows how out of touch one is when they make an effort to point out how in touch they are.

    Perhaps Ol Newt has watched too many “she’s all that” like teenage movies trying to get some relivance? He seems to believe that the class dork actually can run for prom queen and win, fact is, the dork is a dork, the world needs dorks. Carrie has a far more accurate picture of what happens to the dork who runs fro prom queen.

    not to mention, you were born with the name NEWT… really president Newt…… probably not. he’d do better with a change of name and a box of just for men than tinkering with “the face book”

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