Half-Right on the Massachusetts Left

I read David Meerman Scott‘s article on the Huffington Post today, about how the social media divide may be very telling in the close Massachusetts Senate race.

I believe that David is half-right. Read the article (it’s well-thought-out). In it, David decries that poor efforts the Coakley campaign has made to use new media to reach voters, compared to the Brown campaign, and especially to the prior Obama campaign.

He concludes:

The Coakley campaign is underestimating the importance of social media and the new rules of marketing and PR.

John McCain relied on what worked to elect George W. Bush and he lost mainly because of social media. Now Martha Coakley is relying on the playbook that elected Ted Kennedy and she may lose because of social media too.

Now, while it is true that the Coakley campaign does appear to be pretty sparse in its use of networking tools, I think the most substantive divide is not the tools – it’s the passion. Passion + networking will bring about success. However, networking tools without passion won’t cut it.

Martha Coakley, the candidate, is not inspiring (positive) passion. Scott Brown is. And that is a primary reason why his networking efforts will be more successful. It’s not just how you highlight the use of tools. It’s whether you ignite people, who will then use the tools themselves. There’s no excuse for any campaign to poorly employ Facebook, Twitter, and other tools. But these approaches cannot, in and of themselves, inspire people when the candidate does not.

True in business. True in politics. True everywhere.

Or am I missing something here?


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Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

4 Responses to Half-Right on the Massachusetts Left

  1. Hey Steve. I do agree with you. I guess it is check/egg – does passion lead to lots of social media? Or do you need to fire up people via social media to fuel passion?

    Anyway, MY passion (as you know) is marketing. And this is a wonderful example of it. (Not to mention it was pretty cool to get a press pass to a speech by a sitting president.


  2. “John McCain relied on what worked to elect George W. Bush and he lost mainly because of social media.” – David Meerman Scott.

    While Obama obviously used social media effectively, there’s no way that that alone is what put him over the top. The economy, the war, the general frustration with Republicans, all played much bigger roles in helping Obama win, than any social media effort.

    Please remember that much of America isn’t nearly as plugged in as we think it is, let alone followed the Obama campaign closely. While I certainly believe social media will become more and more important in running for office, claiming that that’s what put Obama over the top is just silly.

    I agree with your comments about passion too. If Twitter or any social media strategy feels like nothing more than filling out a press release form, you’re better off not using it.

  3. Honestly, I think there has to be something in the candidate that evokes positive passion – by now, a lot of the social media will “take care of itself” at the ground level if people are engaged and behind the candidate. Of course, every campaign should strive to make it as easy as possible to spread the passion (as candidate Obama did).

    Because candidate Coakley seems to be quite busy not generating positive passion, AND isn’t creating mechanisms to spread something positive, that does not bode well for her campaign.

  4. marcusandrews says:

    Hey Steve and David,
    I just read both your posts and think you bring some very valid points to the table. However I think you’re missing two extremely important ideas.

    Please note that I worked with Alan Khazei’s campaign as a Social Media Consultant and we were able to generate a larger online following than any other candidates during the primary race. See my pre-primary post. http://bit.ly/6krddM

    First, the biggest impact social media has on a campaign other than name awareness is bring in volunteers and donations. We don’t know if the numbers Brown has over Coakley is doing this.

    Second, I don’t think its passion that is bringing in my numbers for Brown. I would say its the story. If Brown wins it would not only be outstanding to the state it would be a disapproval of the President. The New York Times articulated this point well in their front page article of Sundays issue.

    What I would want to know is how many of the Brown supporters are in Mass and are active in the campaign. I would argue that with those two numbers are higher for Coakley.

    I guess we will find out tomorrow.
    -Marcus Andrews

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