Not Everything on the Internet is…Part I

by Yussi Pick

This week’s readings are the last two PDFs Colin Delany wrote over at One is called “Winning in 2010” the other one “Learning from Obama.” Both are a good read for beginners to get an overview and for advanced users of the Internet to refresh, bounce off and have new ideas. I came up with/modified (used the reading as an excuse to impose on you) these eight rules what the Internet (in politics) is and is not. They are in random order and the ninth amendment is in effect (you know…the enumeration shall not be construed to deny or disparage, etc. etc.)

But first, a question from @Kenlevine: “Al and Tipper Gore are separating. Who gets custody of the internet?”

Not everything on the Internet is new.

At CongressCamp last fall, someone was hailing the use of social media during the CA wildfires. People would tweet about recent news and sightings of new fires. I couldn’t help but scream (inside): “If you see a freakin fire, turn on the radio and call 911.” I don’t think that things like rescue efforts or disaster relief should be decentralized. Some real space things do not have to be reinvented for or on the virtual space.

Same goes for the virtual space, some things look differently, but are really just an extension or modification from real space phenomena: “Using the internet for politics may seem new, but most online campaigning at some level just reincarnates classic political acts in digital form,” writes Delany. YouTube is the new TV Ad, Blogging is the new news source, Twitter is the new soapbox. Of course, there are differences in the medium and therefore different ways to approach it, but I don’t think the Internet reinvented the wheel. Just how we use it.

Not everything on the Internet is social.

Do not swim to the blinking object! Or rather: Do not ONLY swim to the blinking object. It was blogs, it was facebook, it will be mobile and geo-location. DO NOT JUST DO THAT. Do it all. And that means, sometimes, the old way is the best way. And by old, I really mean email. “Email effectively remains the “killer app” of online politics, despite constant predictions of its demise,” says Colin. I’m not sure if I agree 100%, but the take home is: Don’t forget Email! Everyone who has an account on any social network/platform/ANYTHING on the Internet demands an email address. And there are problems with email, no doubt. People have multiple email addresses, they don’t read them, your email is bad and they don’t click it, you really only use email for asking for money.

Not everything is on the Internet.

Colin says: “Text messaging will no doubt be a good fit for certain campaigns in 2010, but it’s likely to remain more of a niche application for now.” All I have to say is: Mobile. Just Do it.

Not everything on the Internet is earned.

I like the English distinction between “paid media” and “earned media.” The first referring to ads, the latter to outreach/pitching/media relations however you want to call what press secretaries do all day. Onceuponatime it was called free media. But free media isn’t free of course. Just because almost everything you do on the Internet is usable at little or no cost, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any money on the Internet. Two great companies to throw money at: Google and Facebook. With Google, think in these terms: First, what do people who you want to reach search for? Maybe it’s “Jobs in Ohio,” maybe it’s “SEIU Local 16” (great read!) or “Gas price in Tennessee” Then. your ad should correspond with the search term: “Vote Yussi Pick, he is for higher gas prices!” Third, your landing page should correspond with the search term. The person who clicked on it, is most likely not in a political mind-set yet. Maybe s/he didn’t even get that s/he just clicked on a political ad yet. Fourth: Give the person something to do, but let it be done in a click. For clicks-sake the poor user already had to click two or three times, and you know that you can’t overwhelm an Internet user! Rather, let him/her leave his/her contacts so that you can get back to the user when user has recovered from clicking that often.

Part II is live later this week…