Chris Faulkner spoke to the entire group after lunch on the ability to harness and utilize the “new media”of social networking and other online portals to create a more effective campaign (either political or activist). He gave a disclaimer that this is the most difficult session for him to teach, as he has 20% who won’t get it, 20% who is already using it effectively, and 60% who may get useful information out of the presentation.
Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. are all tools that allow for greater online engagement (dynamic interactive communication), versus the early days of the Internet where someone might have an online presence (static website). A major focus of Faulkner’s presentation was on the potential power of Twitter as a means of creating community and building your persona. I was impressed by the fact that there are approximately 15 million Twitter users (as opposed to 300 million Facebook users) and President Obama has 12% of that community following his ‘tweets’ (1.8 million follwers). There is potential power in this application, as Faulkner put it, 140 charcters to take over the world.
Faulkner discussed how you need to “control your brand” by using social media effectively, and getting your message and your information up to the top of the list on search engines such as Google. It’s all about getting your name out long enough, loud enough, and in as many venues as possible to give it “juice” to help you control your “brand”. Another good way, especially for candidates, is the creation of “fan pages” for your campaign or business on Facebook.
An amazing, but not really surprising statistic is that of various contact media being utilized today, Facebook is used as the primary contact point by more people than who use email (24% vs. 11.1%). Twitter is a close and growing third at 10.8%. It is pretty apparent that instead of a time wasting distraction, social media is becoming somewhat of an indispensible communication tool. Sorry, US Postal Service!
The conversation turned to blogging, and how to go about setting up an effective blog site, how to drive traffic and attention, and how to make your blogging become an activist activity. Faulkner presses the point home that new media will be increasingly more critical to message successs, and in generating action for your agenda.
Social media is now creating a new way of accountability. As Thomas Paine put it, “An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soliders cannot.”