When the history of the 2012 election is written, I will be interested in the chapter on how the campaigns used digital and social media tools to help them win. Right now, as has been reported, most recently by Lois Romano, the Obama campaign has made these relatively new platforms a centerpiece of its efforts to raise money, match voters with messages and build online and ultimately physical — at rallies and the polls — communities of supporters.
I have seen evidence of the Obama digital footprint in my business dealings and in my browsing. Our firm, like many other communications shops, is investing time and money in building digital capabilities and training our people to use them effectively. Several vendors with the latest monitoring or mobile fundraising tool will mention that they are meeting with the Obama campaign about selling it the same platform.
And one sees often Obama's cyber outreach in various forms on the Web: “Win dinner with Barack, we'll pay the airfare,” or the latest news that the first lady is posting on the Pinterest, one of the hottest sharing sites for photos and images, much loved and used by predominantly women.
I hesitate to wonder about the efficacy of the Obama digital emphasis because I am aware that my own facility here is limited. I am self-conscious about not appearing as the voice of radio when the world went to television. But I do wonder. It strikes me that the cyber “Obama-land,” as I can glean it, is a world better-suited to 2008 than 2012. In other words, it assumes a level of enthusiasm and a “cause” that fit the president's campaign when it was a movement. Among other reasons, people join communities and share interests online because they can shape their own world with like-minded individuals. To me, this activity seems a little out of sync with the current political mood; it assumes a degree of suspension of disbelief that is harder now given the last four years of struggle.