Politics is local, so the saying goes. As blogging and social media become more networked into the fabric of public discourse, politics is more local than ever. With a national election only months away, some of the most timely and telling tracks at BlogHer ’12 were presentations on social media and politics.
Here are some of the biggest and best ideas on social media and politics that speakers shared during the event.
Start with what’s personal. People work on what they care about. Women Online founder Morra Aarons-Mele emphasized the importance of the initial issue or cause that spurs someone to action. “When you look at data about women becoming activists, it’s that personal issue that impacts your life that impacts you,” she said.
Select the right venue. There is so much information for audiences to consume that social media is key in finding different ways to spark dialogue and action. Continually test your messaging to determine the optimum time and forum for what you want to say or spark. Anita Sarah Jackson, director of social media and blogging at MomsRising, shared several tips from her organization’s outreach. “Stay nimble and responsive,” she said. Test messaging by using data to determine what content people want to share — and adapt accordingly. “You’re going to have different messages resonate with people in different places,” she said.
Amplify. Where social media really comes into play is the amplification of a message or an idea. This can be shown simply through shares and tweets. It can also come from creating dialogue, such as comments on a blog post or creating a social media event or Twitter party. Buffy Wicks, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said her organization’s “goal is to open the door and get people talking. It’s amazing how information moves. You can see in a debate within two minutes on Twitter how well a point is made.”
You still need to talk to people in person. “You cannot replace old-school organizing,” said Lea Webb, the first African-American and youngest representative on the Binghamton City Council in New York. “Social media isn’t the end, it’s a tool.” Webb emphasized the importance of the in-person connection that needs to happen to involve and engage a community. This can be done through PTA meetings and community events. “Attend and get involved to meet with people and learn what issues are important to them,” she said.
Then, go through the cycle again: Remember what is important to you about your message, determine the right venue for that message, amplify through social media and create in-person dialogue.