Thursday, November 29, 2012
Debriefing Romney's Social Media Machine: A Lesson for Republicans from 1992 Relearned
In the weeks following the end of the Presidential campaign I searched for insight into the strengths and failures of the Romney’s social media campaign similar to the Obama campaign debriefing provided the class by Amanda Grant. I found interesting insight in an Op-ed in Forbes.com. Maybe the author, Mark Fidelman, a regular contributor at Forbes.com and author of Socialized: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social is looking for a consulting gig in 2016, but it made me think of George H.W. Bush 1992 faux pas.I remember the examination of the senior Bush’s loss to Clinton in 1992, with much emphasis on his lack of consideration for the youth and technology. At the time, MTV was still relevant and promoted the Rock the Vote campaign, which Bill Clinton took advantage of with “town hall” style forums on MTV. This set Clinton apart from Bush. Many of my generation looked to MTV for political news identified with Clinton, who was also taking advantage of opportunities to appear on The Tonight Show and Arsenio Hall. Bush Sr., on the other hand, was amazed by the “cutting-edge technology” of a grocery store scanner.
But, I do not want to trash the senior President Bush. His HBO documentary is quite moving and he has quietly slipped into a non-political life. However, I provide the previous flashback to my youth as a reminder that Bush Sr. taught the Republicans an important lesson in understanding the social world of you constituents.From what I know and have read, I agree with Fidelman that the Romney campaign was cognizant of the lesson and was just as equipped technologically to analyze and mobilize the base to victory. It just failed to do so. As unpopular as it sounds in a University setting, in a blue state – Romney’s message did resonate with many voters in the United States, but the campaign’s social media failed to:
Employ Marketing InfluenceWhere Obama used many celebrities to amplify his message, Romney had Clint. And who was Clint talking to? A chair.
Brand Romney’s Own ImageIf Romney had been a new game console, the Republican party would have sent him out to influential bloggers to try out. The bloggers would have played with Romney for days until they could decide if they liked him, without interference. Romney never was truly tested by the on-line influencers. He didn’t let them see the real him, and as a result his identify was shaped by the traditional media and the Obama campaign.
Mobile Ground GameWith the prevalence of smart phones it seems unforgiveable to not coordinate volunteers in the days and weeks leading up to the election. Why wait until 3pm (Project Orca) to find out which Republicans did not vote in the important districts, send people to their door in the days and weeks before.
Reward VolunteersRather than offering a chance to have lunch with the candidate, Romney’s campaign might have benefited better by saving that for those volunteers who knocked on the most doors, logged the most hours on the phone and who were the greatest influence on-line. Macy’s gives gift cards and coupons to its most loyal shoppers, why shouldn’t the candidates?
It seems that if the Romney campaign failed to utilize the information it had collected to understand the social context of the campaign. Had they done that, alongside using with online business and marketing strategies, they might have carried the momentum of the first debate into a win.