November 6, 2012 4:33 PM   Subscribe

What are some examples of new, interesting, funny, and/or powerful ways in which social media have been used during the current 2012 U.S. election season? What's caught your eye? Who's doing it right, who's doing it very wrong, where are the notable gaps?

This is a little different from this past question, which addressed campaign communication more broadly. Here, my focus is specifically on social medi : I'm giving a talk on social media and U.S. politics in general (er, tomorrow), and while the main bits are done, I'd love to have a lot of timely examples to go out with a bang. I obviously know about the Obama AMA on Reddit (and his follow-up today), but I'm kind of drawing a blank about other innovations this election season.

In 2010, there was a lot of talk of the growing role of FourSquare and other location-based apps. Are you still seeing that, or has the trend fizzled out? What are the coolseekers doing this time around? Have there been any hilarious gaffes?

Distract yourself from the election by talking about social media and the election!
posted by Superplin to Law & Government (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't strictly social media, but the Obama campaign was texting supporters to ask if they wanted to make calls. If a supporter responded yes, they would text them the name and phone number of a voter in a swing state. This was an extension of their online call tool.

I thought the call tool and the text messaging was pretty innovative. As far as I know the Romney campaign has nothing even close to this.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 5:45 PM on November 6, 2012

Best answer: The Obama and Romney official tumblrs are a good contrast. The Obama one fits right in with tumblr culture - uses the lingo, reblogs things, and gets into gif-heavy conversations. Their posts get hundreds or thousands of responses. Meanwhile Romney's is stiffly formal and doesn't interact with other tumblrs; it gets far fewer likes and reblogs.
posted by songs about trains at 9:55 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

What struck me was the amount of Obama supporting memes, gifs, images and tweets. An informal grassroots campaign at the lulz level. Highly effective, in my opinion. (Not just in tumblr as mentioned above)
posted by infini at 10:24 PM on November 6, 2012

I haven't seen anyone outside the campaign world talking about this, but EVERYONE I know who worked on campaigns was constantly refreshing Campaign Sick. Superficially, it was another reaction gif blog, but it was also a way for staffers (mostly Dem) working on campaigns all over the country to learn from each other or just feel solidarity with each other.

The genius thing is that the creator is actually a really great organizer herself, and used the blog as a teaching tool, but it was also genuinely funny. And she accepted submissions from staffers all over, which is great because campaigns don't typically allow staffers to have personal blogs, much less ones where they make lewd jokes about the opposition.
posted by lunasol at 11:04 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The use of social media in his campagne is adressed in this Time Swampland article: Inside the Secret World of Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win.
posted by amf at 5:23 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this is a hilarious gaffe, but after I did the call I mentioned here (slow page load, 5000-post thread and growing), I couldn't get any more numbers texted to me. This was Monday night. I tried again yesterday, and it worked. The number they gave me? The same kid they gave me on Monday.

I don't know if that implies that EVERYBODY who asked for a number to call was texted the same list of people, starting from the top of the list (which is a huge gaffe, and a very costly one for my friend Cody), or if the system links unique callers with their own list, or what. I'm hoping some journalist looks into this, because I'm really curious how that system even worked. How do they know I actually call the number they send me? If they recycle the names across multiple callers, that's really awful abuse of potential supporters and callers alike.

So, maybe a gaffe, maybe just a superficially cool idea that can't possibly be executed very cleanly.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:38 AM on November 7, 2012

Best answer: The Awl has done a couple of posts on Obama vs Romney's use of Instagram and Flickr.
posted by Gortuk at 12:55 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! My talk went well, and aside from the immediate need, I often present (as well as teach) on these kinds of topics. So even the suggestions I wasn't able to use today will be of use in the classroom and future presentations. (For the record, "Amercia"--in the context of how the different campaigns used their mobile apps--and the Tumblr "culture wars" both made it in, as well as some general comments based on that really terrific and kinda disturbing article about the data crunchers.)

I think the general lack of, "OMG, that's amazing!" social media applications or episodes this campaign, compared to the last two, has to do with the fact that these platforms have really become integrated into our everyday way of living and communicating. Which is noteworthy in and of itself, I guess.
posted by Superplin at 1:14 PM on November 7, 2012

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