Back in 2008, for the most part we relied on journalists and bloggers to fill us in on all the action at the conventions. Both parties had “web vendors” to manage convention content on the Internet. Now, just four years later, the Committees have full blown digital and social media strategy teams working hard to keep us all in the loop. We no longer rely on big news networks to tell us about the conversations happening on the ground — we can now rely on our own networks.
Republicans are calling Tampa “a convention without walls”, and Democrats say Charlotte will be “the most open and accessible convention in history.” Interacting with attendees and participants at the Convention will be easier than ever, and with the help of the big tech giants and smartphones, streaming content to the masses will widen channels of communication and diversify perspectives on this year’s election. “We’re able to expand [the convention] even further and invite the whole country to participate in a more interactive way then you might traditionally experience by tuning into a television,”explains Nikki Sutton, director of digital media for the 2012 Democratic Convention.
Democrats will live-stream speeches, caucus meetings and the council discussion of the party’s platform online, and the Republicans have a “Social Media War Room” in the Tampa Convention Center, with the goal of reaching every American — “whether they are in Toledo, Ohio, the convention floor in Tampa or a forward operating base in Afghanistan,” according to RNC spokesman, James Davis. There are also new apps out — the “DNC 2012” and “Tampa 2012” mobile apps will feature videos, photos, conventions schedules, maps and local information for exploring Charlotte and Tampa.
External to the parties, Google plans to run a YouTube livestream of all prime-time speeches and events which means you can watch any of the events/proceedings on the go and on demand! And of course, the committees’ social media strategies wouldn’t be complete without Facebook on board. In a note on its U.S. Politics on Facebook page, the company announced its ambitious plans for the conventions. Here are a few:
- I’m Voting: Facebook and CNN will demonstrate their new I’m Voting app, which enables users to commit to vote for and endorse specific candidates and issues — displaying these commitments on their timelines, news feeds, and tickers.
- Photo Spots: Republican National Convention attendees will be able to swipe special badges at Facebook “Photo Spots” that will instantly upload onto their timelines.
- Apps & Drinks: Members of Facebook’s developer community and public-policy teams will meet with journalists and developers who have built election-related applications to discuss the social network’s open graph and app ecosystem.
As part of this effort, we will curate and present what participants are saying publicly on Facebook about their convention experience, as well as what Facebook users around the world are sharing publicly about these closely watched quadrennial gatherings. This will encourage discussion, civic participation, and uncover the real conversations happening in and around the big events.
Twitter’s not being left out of the fun either. For gaging voter sentiments throughout the conventions and beyond, Twitter’s poll tracker — Twindex — will be useful for mapping losses and/or gains during next couple weeks. Not to mention, most conversations taking place online will be in the form of tweets via @DemConvention, #DNC2012, @GOPConvention and #RNC2012.
And it’s not just attendees and interested viewers that will be using social media to take part in the Conventions– as the Washington Post reported, “those planning protests are using the Internet to get organized, too.” “The Coalition to March on the RNC” (@marchonthernc) is planning to mobilize on Aug. 27 in Tampa and “The March on Wall Street South” (@WallStSouth), plans to bring thousands to Charlotte to rally against big business and economic inequality on the eve of the Democratic Convention.
Social media, as it increases the ability of anyone to create, curate and share content, is creating a new, digital foundation for the future of political conventions as well as local community organizing. What we need to pay more attention to, however, is who is participating in these online conversations, and what kind of clout, and for that matter, Klout they have. Creating internet buzz, without true diversity in participation across various groups, won’t transform the status quo. With that said, we encourage you to follow the convention activities online and tell us what you think about keynote speeches, instagram photo ops, and anything and everything else that matters to you !
- 2012 conventions embrace social media openness (associatedpress.com)
- Technology giants to descend on conventions (politico.com)
- Republican National Convention releases mobile app (thehill.com)
- Democratic Convention touts first ever mobile app (cnn.com)