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Blog The Vote, Day 6: Social Supremacy
Western Gazette· Tue, Feb 05 2013 13:10:04
Today, we finally got some action. That’sright folks, yesterday a single demerit point was dealt to Team Whelan forhaving campaign materials in an unauthorized area. No further details rightnow, but check tomorrow’s paper for the full story.
In any case, it’s not incrediblysignificant—in the past, it has been common to hear of campaign teams decidingthe benefit of campaigning in unauthorized areas (i.e. putting up posters whereyou aren’t supposed to) outweighed the consequences of a few demerits. As longas a team doesn’t accumulate 30 points during the campaign, which woulddisqualify them from the election, demerits are essentially meaningless aside from the accompanying fine of $6 per point.Frankly, it’s surprising we haven’t seen more demerits already.
Maybe the reason we’ve seen so few demeritsthis year is because the real campaign isn’t being fought on campus as much as online.Each team actually has a distinct online strategy, something we haven’t seen that much before.
Team Ashley McGuire
Ashley McGuire is going the video route. Now one week into the campaign, McGuire has already released five videos, including her campaign video. By bombarding voters with a never-ending stream of visuals, it seems she hopes to saturate the electorate with her Western-loving image.
Today’s offering was entitled #SUNGLASSME, and featured…people in sunglasses. Walking around.
I’m not sure exactly what it means, but whatever it is, it was accompanied with a Twitter blitz from the campaign team.
Let’s do it better. http://youtu.be/UsrFRLsPtjk #SunglassMe #WelcomeHome #VoteAshley #VoteUSCAdam Ibrahim
#sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme #sunglassme @uwogazette #WelcomeHome #voteuscBrent Duncan
Did you know @blakebarkley invented SUNGLASSES? He wore them fashionably, while kissing babies! #SUNGLASSME #VoteASHLEY http://pic.twitter.com/soSzNWf4Steph Connor
Your guess is as good as mine.
Twitter saturation is the other tactic McGuire is using. I first noticed this yesterday, when the
#voteusc feed was blitzed by another bizarre message:
Did you know: @ashleyemcguire wants a dog named Olivia and she talks like she already has one #WelcomeHome #voteAshley #voteUSCSam Mariani
Did you know: @ashleyemcguire wants a dog named Olivia and talks like she already has one #welcomehome #voteashley #voteuscPearl Kwan
This was clearly a highly coordinated effort by McGuire’s team of supporters to Tweet this exact message yesterday, because it showed up dozens of times from different users all with the team logo as their avatar. I understand the tactic of Twitter saturation—clog up the official election feed with your own message in order to increase recognition and drown out the other candidates—but it’s the message that makes no sense to me. She wants a dog—okay fine. So what? Why can’t you clog my Twitter feed with a message of actual substance? It’s the same thing today, but with the
hashtag. Again: the tactic is not inherently bad, but when coupled with a message that is utterly devoid of anything relating to the platform on which McGuire is running, I’m left scratching my head.
To their credit, however, they have released a series of
feasibility updates to their platform, adding some details about how they plan to achieve their goals. Team Vivek Prabhu
Vivek Prabhu’s strategy is a bit different from McGuire’s. The most obvious difference is his lack of video content: after posting his campaign video on day one—which suffered from its own issues about lack of content—there hasn’t been a follow-up. That’s not necessarily bad, though—there are many ways to get the word out.
Team Western Momentum, as they’re called, have also taken to Twitter, though in visibly smaller droves than Team McGuire.
Why are YOU joining the #WesternMomentum? @SSSCOUNCIL President @MattHelfand gives his reasons: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=131003327069193&set=a.128631023973090.28282.126611000841759&type=1&theater #TeamViv #VoteUSCWesternMomentum
A few of the people who made all of this happen #WesternMomentum http://pic.twitter.com/7v9LUz7IDaniel Bain
Vivek’s tactics appear to lean a bit more towards endorsement—in these examples, they get some momentum from the Social Science Students’ Council President, as well as some of the faces behind this year’s highly successful Charity Ball on Saturday night. Aside from that, it seems like most of the
tweets are invitations to visit their booth in the UCC atrium. It’s not the most imaginative tactic, but at least it makes sense.
The endorsement idea was hinted at early by the “
Portfolio” section of the Western Momentum website, featuring a slew of display pictures, avatars and other social media swag that supporters can use to show their support. It’s a shrewd move—these days, it would seem almost careless to not offer some kind of social media engagement to your supporters—but it might not be enough, since all the other candidates have similar offerings as well.
Re-posting your campaign video on the #voteusc feed is all well and good, but in the face of what the other two teams are up to online, it might not be enought. Western Momentum would do well to increase their social media presence by offering a greater level of engagement to their supporters, or else risk losing valuable online exposure.
Team Patrick Whelan
Pat Whelan is bested by McGuire by the number of her videos and by her team’s sheer volume of Twitter activity. But what Team Whelan does better than either of their opponents is engage their base beyond simple hashtag-bombs. Their online strategy is easily the most expansive of the three slates—while McGuire and Prabhu are effectively using existing social media tools to get the word out, what’s most impressive about Team Whelan is they created their
already written about the team’s iPhone app, with the photo function that encourages users to create and share their own campaign materials like these:
No matter how you look at it, Team Whelan is the right choice. LOLZ XDDD #TeamWhelan http://pic.twitter.com/gXWHfQu6Cara Summers
Sigh, he’s almost as dreamy as @patrickdwhelan himself #voteteamwhelan http://instagr.am/p/VFRilLLHHp/Hilary Mair
@voteteamwhelan #TeamWhelan http://pic.twitter.com/aEzOTCw2Lindsee Perkins
Since then, though, the team has updated the app and released yet another online campaign tool, the “Team Whelan Dashboard” Facebook app.
Like Whelan’s website and iPhone app, this site looks slick. In addition to being a resource centre for things like cover photos and profile pics, the app prompts you to send messages to your friends about the campaign, which gets you points. The point leaders are displayed on a leaderboard, and at the end of the campaign, apparently, the winner will get a prize. Theoretically, this should give users an incentive beyond mere loyalty to promote the message.
Team Whelan DashboardThe Dashboard makes it easy again. Once inside, you can message your friends to vote, sign up to help IRL, and download fun Team Whelan s…
Of course, a lot of the sharing that is facilitated by Team Whelan’s various apps and sites is devoid of any substantial platform-related content. But that goes for everyone else, too, so apparently that’s not important.
The dashboard is an innovative idea, and a lot of work has obviously gone into the site. But will it catch on? This is where Team Whelan’s relative lack of Twitter activity could hurt them—it’s a great app, but no one will use if if they don’t know about it. And a Tweet here and there certainly will not cut through the un-ending barrage of Team McGuire tweets in the #voteusc feed.