Categorized | Elections, News

Strategist: Candidates lack effective social media outreach

Editor’s note: The following is a press release issued by PR Log. It was written by Daniel Brackins, a new media strategist who holds an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University. For more information or to contact Brackins, visit


With the 2010 election just around the corner, many candidates have already begun their campaign. In Hawaii, this consists primarily of sign waving, holding rallies, printing up flyers to be distributed throughout the community, etc. These are the traditional avenues of political campaigning that many are accustomed to. Yet as the elections of 2004, 2006, and 2008 showed, social media is now a core element of modern political campaigns.

Communication technologies such as e-mail, Web sites, and podcasts for various forms of activism enable faster communications by citizen movements and deliver a message to a large audience. These Internet technologies are used for fundraising, lobbying, volunteering, community building, and organizing.

This is something the candidates of Hawaii have yet to fully embrace, and their failure to utilize social media will cost them the election.

To put things in perspective Hawaii’s 2010 gubernatorial race is analyzed; this will certainly be one of Hawaii’s most watched races. Among others the current prospects include: Mufi Hannemann (D), Duke Aiona (R), and Neil Abercrombie (D).

First, a simple Google search for “2010 Hawaii gubernatorial candidates,” or “2010 Hawaii governor’s race” does not bring any content created by the campaigns of the candidates listed above. This search would be something a voter may use to find information about the candidates. While there is information about the candidates in the search results, they are from third parties such as blogs.

After some searching, on the bottom of the third page a link to Hannemann’s Web site is found in the latter search, and a link to Abercrombie’s page on the second page in the former search. Aiona was nowhere to be found.

This shows that the campaigns have not optimized their Web sites for search engines. The savvy reader will test these key words in other searches such as “2010 California gubernatorial candidates” and notice the difference.

Next their individual campaign Web sites are analyzed. This provides the following data:

* Hannemann
Traffic Rank – 6,520,164
Sites Linking In – 7

* Aiona
Traffic Rank – 2,588,557
Sites Linking In – 10

* Abercrombie
Traffic Rank – 1,772,116
Sites Linking In – 57

Abercrombie ranks the highest with the most number of hits and page views. He also has the highest number of sites linking to his Web site. More sites linking in shows a greater amount of reach. Aoina is second and Hannemann is a very distant third. However, all have very few for a political candidate.

While all have incorporated social networking links to some degree, what really matters is the level conversation the campaign has with voters. For a quick example, the respective candidate’s Twitter analytics are analyzed:

* Hannemann
Followers – 636,5152
Impact – 0.9%
Engagement – 0.0%
Generosity – 0.0%
Clout – 2.9%
Reach – 636,904

* Aiona
Followers – 2,549
Impact – 0.8%
Engagement – 0.0%
Generosity – 0.0%
Clout – 1.3%
Reach – 2,546

* Abercrombie
Followers – 5,914
Impact – 2.7%
Engagement – 0.0%
Generosity – 25.0%
Clout – 9.1%
Reach – 19,523

Impact is calculated using the following parameters:
* The number of followers a user has
* The number of unique references and citations of the user in Twitter
* The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeted
* The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeting other people
* The relative frequency at which the user posts updates

Of these Hannemann has the most impact. More than likely this is disproportionate because of his large number of followers. None of the candidates engage with others on Twitter. Abercombie is the most generous by retweeting others the most often. Abercrombie also has the most clout with his name being used most often by others on Twitter.

Of all the candidates on Twitter, Abercrombie has the most reach in proportion to the amount of followers. This shows that Abercrombie is utilizing Twitter the most effectively. Moreover, just because one has lots of followers it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are creating conversations with the voter.

In analyzing their Facebook pages, all seem to attempt engaging the community but all fail to do so. Social media, unlike traditional media, is not about interruptions. It is not a place to simply advertise your product or service (in this case the candidate). Rather it is a place for conversations and listening.

Thus proper use of these tools goes beyond self-promotion. Rather asking questions, getting feedback, and even allowing for negative comments. Building a social community is about building relationships. If the candidates do not provide what the voter seeks, they will go somewhere else.

This analysis could go on indefinitely, but it is outside the scope of this piece to conduct a complete analysis. Simply put, there are lessons to be learned by the candidates and others who are in the pursuit of a strong social media campaign.

It should consist of creating voter personas with content built around those voters. The created content talks about the problems that these voters face in the words and phrases used by the voter. This content is then delivered in the online forms they prefer (i.e. blogs, websites, podcasts, social networking sites, etc.)

The content designed for these voters must have appropriate key words and tags that will be indexed by search engines allowing for the candidate to be easily found. A social media campaign cannot simply be thrown together with the hopes that it will work. It must be carefully researched and planned for full effectiveness.

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