All politics is local, according to the late former U.S. House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill. And all politics is marketing, according to anyone who’s ever sat through an endless series of TV political attack ads.
And now all politics is social media marketing.
Have you checked your Twitter and Facebook feeds during this primary election season? If you’ve fired up your iPad during any of the GOP debates, you’ve no doubt noticed how Meet The Press has turned into Meet The Public; those pushing their favorite
brand candidate cheer, their opponents diss, and real-time fact-checkers strut their stuff. Cable networks take tweeted/YouTube video questions. The candidates themselves long ago set up shop on social media, knowing it’s a valuable direct-to-the-masses method for messaging and rapid response.
Not content to let Facebook and Twitter have all the fun, Google is working hard to make its Google+ social network an indispensable source of information during this election year. The Google Politics and Elections Page offers features like what users in states holding primaries are searching for on Google, post-debate video Hangouts and open-ended questions tied to issues and candidates.
During this week’s Thursday night debate in Florida, for example, the top Google search terms were, in descending order: language ghetto (related to a Newt Gingrich/Mitt Romney ad-related feud), Rubio (as in Republican Florida Senator Marco), Freddie Mac (Gingrich’s one-time client) and moon (where Gingrich has said he wants to return through space exploration, immediately getting the attention of NASA’s workers along Florida’s Space Coast).
Next Monday, January 30th at 5:30 p.m. EST, Google+ will host its first Presidential Hangout. President Obama will answer pre-submitted questions, but a few people will actually get to join the president for the video chat. (I’ve asked Google+ press representatives to explain the vetting process for this particular Hangout and for information on participation during the post-debate Hangouts. I’ve not heard from them yet. I will update the blog if/when they get back to me).
You can expect the GOP challengers to Obama to get busy with their own Hangouts this year if they meet with any level of success. How that might be measured depends (again) on whatever Google tells us, plus any value that voters can see in how Hangouts bring them closer to those running for office. The latest statistics recently delivered by Google+ watchers Plus Demographics show the target-rich environment that is Google+ for candidates: nearly 29 million U.S. users, with 45 percent of those between the ages of 18-24. There’s a rough 60-40 split between men and women.
Oh, and more than 200,000 brand pages have been set up since Google+ launched last year. Which is the real point of all this: the candidates are serving as vetting engines for the Hangout feature. If they work well, then you can expect more businesses to vote for Google+ by using these video chats for customer service, brand messaging and focus group-style research.
If you’ve seen any of the Google+ politically-themed hangouts, tell us what you thought of them in our Comments section. And please cast your ballots for these social media marketing-related stories from the week:
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