Four years ago, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made “Change we can be part of” the new political message. Since then, citizens have taken to the Web politically and also, despite predictions to the contrary this has complimented and inspired action in the streets in ways America hasn’t seen since the Vietnam War. This desire for social change comes from within us, but it’s social technology, specifically social media that has brought us the capacity to each and every one of us to act and achieve meaningful impact.
Occupy Wall Street and MoveOn.org
Over the course of seven months in 2011, Occupy Wall Street coined and proceeded to burn the term the 99 percent into our collective consciousness. Protestors inhabited the spaces of the 1 percent, grabbing worldwide attention. Social media played a key role in putting their activities on the map including:
- Hashtags: #OccupyWallStreet, #sleeponwallstreet, #whilewewatch
- Live Tweeting from protests
- a Flickr Photo Stream
- LiveStream HD and Video
- Online training materials for activists to employ on the ground
MoveOn.org uses its massive email database to get people to sign petitions quickly, and share those petitions with friends through social networks, especially Facebook. The progressive political organization is also providing free activism training through which participants can “join to reclaim our country, one neighborhood at a time.” This effort, Move On’s The 99% Spring provides an 8-part, 90-minute training session; 10 national action days in which to participate; and an online community where you can create your own 99-percent Spring event.
Republican social media and the Tea Party
Conservatives will not be outdone in in the social space in 2012 as as they were in 2008. Perhaps one of the most to-the-point and immediately useful political, social media efforts is the website simply named Republican Social Media. The site provides up-t0-the-minute feeds of 18 different political figures, including these five heavy-hitters:
- Mitt Romney’s 3 campaign accounts
- Hilary Rosen
- Michelle Obama
- Republican National Committee
- Ron Paul
The website is simple and does the job: A splash page gate keeps instant access to the most commonly recognized social media tool used by prominent political figures, Twitter. Perhaps the most sought-after Twitter handle, @politics does a good job of addressing issues important to both sides of the aisle.Home to one of the most successful 3rd parties in history, the Tea Party Patriots have their “Official Home” page, where visitors must declare your allegiance to the Tea Party in order to create an account and participate. That’s their private blog. Then there’s the red, white, blue and flashy version with featured Tea Party bloggers and contrary opinions.
The next wave of social media in politics
From the Arab Spring to the Washington Post to Republican strategist Wesley Donehue’s warning on “The danger of Twitter, Facebook politics,” the conversation continues. Whether they’re conservative or very liberal — voters are participating in the online conversation around politics. Global or local, today all politics are social. For those who want to track their candidate or party’s social media performance, a new platform called Whistlestop is now in Beta. You can read a detailed description of its functionality by our friend Leena Rao at Techcrunch. With so many opportunities to participate in our democracy, what political action will you be taking this campaign season?