“Facebook Effect” Changing Campaigning
Here’s another Washington Post article about young people are using social networking sites such as Facebook to engage in political and social issues. The article focuses for the most part on young people who have used Facebook to to build support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, but any campaign with a clue should be pursuing an aggressive online strategy that includes social media, blogs, email, video and instant messaging. A month after he created a Facebook group called One Million for Barack Obama, Farouk Olu Agrebe’s group has more than 279,000 members.
Just how big a role online organizing will play in the 2008 presidential race is unknown, but the impact of the internet is growing. Its a crucial part of reaching and mobilizing young voters.
Peter Levine, deputy director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a nonpartisan research center at the University of Maryland that studies young potential voters, predicts what he calls “the Facebook Effect.”
“Everybody — the pundits, the online strategists — have been waiting for the first candidate to really hit a home run with the social-networking sites,” Levine said. “Obama’s message is attractive to a certain type of young person. He’s saying: ‘You have a role to play. This is about you. About your role.’ There’s a real hunger for that kind of message.”
Added Todd Zeigler of the Bivings Group, a D.C.-based Internet communications firm that works with Republicans: “The key point here is that the support for Obama on these social-networking sites is not being driven by the campaign itself. It is something spontaneous as opposed to something the campaign itself is orchestrating. This shows a real enthusiasm for Obama’s candidacy among young people that you aren’t seeing for any other candidates at this point.”