Mike McGuire

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mike McGuire
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
21 years IT industry

Mike McGuire guides digital marketers on best practices for developing strategies. He specializes in how context, community, location and time — combined with a consumer’s purchase history and purchase intent — are changing the relationship between consumers and brands …Read Full Bio

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Social Media and 2012 Presidential Election: Mobile’s Role?

by Mike McGuire  |  September 5, 2012  |  1 Comment

You and I, dear reader, know the power of social media — it’s everywhere.  Even the murky world of political campaigns knows the power of social,  as evidenced in recent press coverage coming out of the Republican and Democratic conventions convention in Tampa, FL, and Charlotte, NC, respectively.

One thing I see missing from this coverage is any discussion of mobile’s impact.  Certainly the power of mobile devices has been felt by social stalwarts such as Facebook (and their less-than-effective efforts to monetize the increasing mobile traffic to Facebook has been well documented — a couple of examples here and here).  When you look at various stories discussing the role of social in efforts like political campaigns, the coverage focuses on the distinctions between gross audience numbers — number of “friends” on Facebook, or the number of Twitter followers, tweets-per-second – and engagement.  Politicians, like brands, are focusing on engagement as much as they are focusing on the engagement metrics. 

Which strikes me as kind of weird given that I’d read somewhere in the past — perhaps it was a poli-sci class in college? — that campaigns are really waged for the hearts/minds/votes of the undecided voters.  It that’s true, then what we’re seeing with politics is that the engagements — say, on a FB page for a candidate or on Twitter — is mostly skirmishing among “decideds” — those individuals who have already settled on a candidate.  I haven’t seen it yet, let me know if you have, but I was thinking if the campaigns really want to extend the engagement beyond the conventions? I mean, if they’re really trying to do something with these social tools beyond getting lots of tweets and re-tweets out of an event at a fixed time and place in the physical world (the conventions) that might help achieve a specific result at a fixed time in the future (election day), where’s the call to action? Perhaps a tactic could be things like creating Facebook- or Twitter-delivered calendar reminder linked to the voter’s time zone, that reminds them to get the pols on election day? Or put another way, giving them the call to action that moves them through the consideration phase of the Funnel to the conversion.

For digital and mobile marketers, who are probably keeping their eyes on how the campaigns utilize social media, it’s worth considering how they use social media and social networking with their base, their existing customers.  For the mobile marketer, who is charged with simultaneously keeping existing customers engaged (and primed for a new product or service offering) as well as recruiting new customers, keeping an eye out for usage metrics in the post-convention follow-ups will likely offer up some interesting tidbits.  Undoubtedly, we’ll get some examples of how the tactical operatives of the campaigns worked closely with the campaign equivalents of the CIO’s team. Perhaps some take-aways for the topic of how CIOs and CMOs are going to need to team up in the future?

I know I’ll be looking out for those mobile-specific items.

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