Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hillary Clinton and the YouTube Election...

If you are a cable news junkie like myself you've seen an awful lot of press coverage recently on Hillary Clinton's new YouTube video where she asks supporters to create and submit ideas for her presidential campaign song. The news media seems enthralled with this idea of Hillary embracing "YouTube politics" and harnessing the power of the web for her campaign, however what she has done is actually the farthest thing from using an effective internet political strategy.

The power of social media in cyberspace lies in the diversity of content and the networking of people who share things they find interesting. This decentralization of content creation, embodied in websites like YouTube, holds the true potential of the web as a democratizing force.

Clinton's campaign team seems to have completely missed that point. Her video may be humorous and amusing, but as yet another centralized top-down stay-on-message message, ultimately it is limited as a political tool in that it's only real effect is garnering more favorable publicity in the traditional press. It fails to do much, however, to create a genuine buzz in cyberspace.

The election of 2008 is already shaping up to be a race for who can be the candidate who will use the internet most effectively for publicity, growing a grassroots political base, and fund raising. Granted, Clinton's video was successful in garnering publicity in the traditional press, and will likely also help in raising ever more coffers of campaign cash - plus, like all of the other major presidential candidates, simply experimenting to discover what will work by trial-and-error, especially early in the campaign season, is certainly worth the effort. However, when all is said and done, these campaigns will eventually discover that non-official messages (ex. - improvised, unrehearsed remarks made by candidates when they didn't think they were speaking publicly, yet caught on someone's cell phone camera - both positive and negative moments) are far more likely to capture the attention and imagination of cyberspace netizens... and therefore harness the true power of Web 2.0.


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