Not Everything on the Internet is…Part II

by Yussi Pick

This is the second part of a blogpost that is inspired by a reading for my Internet Advocacy class. It shall be seen as my weekly social network discoveries post.

Nothing on the Internet is big.

There is an important concept behind this statement: The long tail. From Wikipedia: This concept gained popularity “as a retailing concept describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities – usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities.” Translated into the political world: 30 years ago, when you bought an ad on TV, everyone saw it. Then cable came and segmented the market. Then the Internet came and segmented it even more. Today, there are a gazillion social networking sites, blogs, sources people get news from, surf on daily. This is an opportunity: It is way easier to target, since the segmentation usually happens for various interests. But it’s also a challenge: You have to be everywhere to be heard by everyone. Yes, that means also MySpace, where still was it 6 Million people log on daily? If you want to talk to midwestern, underprivileged folks on the web, MySpace is your platform.That’s what “nothing on the Internet is big” means: You have to be everywhere, but don’t expect masses.

Not everything on the Internet is communication.

Political Online Strategists complain that the Internet by amateur politicians and operatives is often seen as an ATM. After all, Obama made X amount of money off the net. And they have every right to complain. It is not a fundraising tool – not exclusively. But it is also not JUST a tool for communication. This is an important revelation when you try to figure out where in your (campaign) organizational flowchart to put the New Media team. The answer: EVERYWHERE. There should be new media experts working with the communications team on delivering a message, there should be new media experts working in the fundraising to deliver the money, there should be new media experts working in field to organize (online) volunteers and bring voters to the polls…which brings us to …

Not everything on the Internet (should) stay on the Internet.

Actually NOTHING should stay on the Internet. It’s a – very complex and rich – medium, but it’s still that: a medium. Facebook Fans don’t win you an election. Voters do. Email Subscribers don’t convince other people to vote. Supporters do. Everything action on the Internet has to have a real life impact – or it’s a lost action. My friend Joe was at the Personal Democracy Forum in NY las week (i’mnotbitteri’mnotbitteri’mnotbitter) and tweeted wisdom:  “Great note by @heif of @meetup: If people are not meeting up, it’s not a movement! Use the internet to get off the internet!”

The Internet is not just built for elections.

If your last tweet is “Don’t forget to vote” you didn’t get it. and webbies will notice that you just used them for the election. The Obama iPhone application was great – but useless after the election. Text messages sent since the election: 0. The Twitter account: dead for four months. Yes, it’s intriguing to raise funds, push message and organize till election day and then drop it like it’s hot. It’s like having no fundraising plan or media strategy until 6 months before an election.