Setting up a campaign Web site is so 2004. This presidential election season, candidates have begun
placing profiles on the social networking site Facebook.com in a manner similar to your dad singing rap music or your mom going clubbing.
We all know Facebook is what we make of it. It allows us to get our message out, get in contact with classmates, or stalk someone we are too chicken to approach.
Presidential candidates tend to be ineffective in getting their messages out to the young people of America. The problem is that they are showing their inability to connect with young people and understand new media.
Facebook should be a politician’s dream, as it essentially does all of the networking for them. It acts as a form of nearly instant communication between two friends (or friends of friends). In this case it acts as a potential forum between politician and potential voter. Despite having easy access to young voters, candidates struggle to fully utilize Facebook correctly.
Ideally, the profile of a candidate should make for a conversation between the potential president and his or her supporters. It would be wonderful if a campaign representative would answer some of questions from potential voters every week or update the profile to include public appearances. Should we expect former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican hopeful, to answer to our every wall posting? I wouldn’t hold my breath, but someone from his campaign should be monitoring the profile. A peak at his profile reveals that he uses Facebook as nothing but an online billboard where overly exuberant supporters talk to the wind hoping someone from the Romney
camp answers.On Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s profile, a commenterasks why we should vote for her.
Others take advantage of the “wall” by posting negative and often hilarious comments such as, “All I wanted to do was love you, Hillary. Is that so bad? Why haven’t you returned my calls?” Despite the popularity of her profile, which has more than 2,500 comments to date (compared to Republican Sen. John McCain’s nearly 125), there is not one response.
Think of this in offline terms. If 2,500 voters walked up to a candidate and said, “I’ll vote for you if you just answer this one question,” I bet they would respond.
It is a miracle if most candidates even have a Web site. But after Howard Dean utilized the Internet so well in 2004, many have picked up the slack. But in this MySpace.com era, many would argue that a dynamic Web site is enough of an online presence. We hear so often that if a candidate could fully exploit
the untapped votes of young Americans, victory would come easily.
Lucky for politicians, we happen to be the most accessible voters. There are nearly 19 million Facebook users, many of whom are under 25, just displaying their demographic information for all to see. It couldn’t get much easier. Best of all is the cost – free.
Although it may seem ironic that the next leader of the free world is utilizing the same Web site students use to throw keggers, Facebook could be a powerful tool if the campaigners just opened their eyes.
Sean Blanda can be reached at