Managing your online identity Version 1.5

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Information about Managing your online identity Version 1.5
News & Politics

Published on September 29, 2009

Author: DCvaquero



RSLC manual on using the internet in your political campaign

Managing your online identity Leveraging the power of the internet for political campaigns Casey Phillips (2009) Version 1.0 Republican State Leadership Committee Download this presentation at

What is Web 360? Full 360 degree integration of your e-campaign into your traditional campaign for the purposes of increasing your viability and accessibility to opinion makers, media, bloggers, activists and donors. A modern campaign must develop a comprehensive plan that manages the power of the Internetʼs 1.0 broadcasting medium coupled with the webs rapidly expanding 2.0 community building and activism tools while optimizing your web presence for use in the mobile 3.0 world. The world of slow moving, top down communications is becoming obsolete, authority now comes from many different directions and you must engage the public through multi-directional channels. The best way to quickly judge your online identity is what shows up on the first page of Google or any search engine when you type in your name, (85 percent of Internet traffic starts at a search engine). If you and your campaign are buried on page 2 or 3 of Google then you barely exist and nobody will find you and nobody will care. Why You Should Care: Your online identity is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest medium for communication to potential activists, donors and voters. The Internet allows you to begin building your brand among the chattering classes long before the TV commercials begin to run. In fact many times potential donors will search you out on the Internet before deciding whether or not to contribute to your campaign. If your e-house is not in order and your campaign does not look attractive online you may be turning potential check writers off and away. The press and local media outlets are hurting because the Internet allows users to search out the news they want to find at free or minimal cost. The Internet offers you a medium to generate media stories, raise funds and build an army of followers to your cause without ever leaving the comfort of your easy chair. The Internet is now the first step in building your personal brand. In the old days campaigns were started with initial meetings with party leaders, business leaders, activists and donors. These meetings helped you understand what is important in your district and whom you need to talk to, where you need to go, and what you need to talk about. These meetings help you gauge the political climate, size up your competition and start the buzz about your potential candidacy. Nowadays the groundwork for even the original rounds of meetings can be laid online. In fact it is likely that blogs and online forums will be buzzing about your candidacy long before you ever begin assembling your team. Nothing is secret anymore and certainly not on the Internet. A smart candidate will learn to harness and exploit this wild west of people and information using sometimes confusing but ultimately simple, and mostly free tools. The Internet is full of people who are generating fresh content and having conversations every day, it is in your best interest to turn on and plug in.

The long tail of the Internet allows you to speed targeted messages and instant responses to targeted niches of the population. The speed of Internet communication is one of the main reasons that traditional news outlets are fading. Blogs and online magazines area able to break news hours before anyone can warm up a printing press. Anything that is printed is history, has likely been shared, discussed, sent around, corrected and editorialized on by thousands of people before you picked it up. In 2009 traditional newspapers are now too slow to even break news about themselves:

The Internet is now almost universally available. Broadband access in American households is up to 82% in 2008, according to a recent report by the Pew Internet & American life project, from around 50% in late 2004 and 10% in 2000. Until fairly recently most people were constrained by bandwidth from fully enjoying itʼs capabilities. Your Objective: To establish and manage a dominant web presence that will leverage the reach and scope of the Internet in order for you to promote your message, encourage people to activate and contribute. The building of a solid community online is truly a 3 legged stool. You must appeal to 3 groups in concert: donors, media (including bloggers), and activists/voters. Put your best foot forward because all 3 groups are judging your performance. As with the traditional campaign your goal is to make a strong sales pitch to the donors and the media and in turn inspire the activists to follow you. A modern campaign invites people in to the process by focusing on transparency. A transparent approach allows donors, activists, bloggers, media, and voters to take ownership of your campaign, feel a part of it and take responsibility for it. To forge new relationships with people you otherwise would not have access to, you must recruit them to your cause, add value to their experience and make them feel appreciated. In response your online community will provide you with the tangible benefit of real life action and nearly instant feedback. If you pay attention to the community youʼre building, then the community will step up and do the work. -Joe Trippi, campaign manager Howard Dean for President

What is the difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0? In the early ages of candidate involvement on the Internet many political candidates and groups felt that they needed a website or splash page, basically an online presence for the sake of having one this is known as a simple broadcast platform or web 1.0 Web 2.0 provides tools for community building, interaction and mobilization allowing Internet users to get involved and help to spread your message. Web 2.0 allows your online presence to by dynamic and engaging. Content can be uploaded and shared from a variety of sources making your website attractive for repeat visits. Web 2.0 allows your campaign website to become a true virtual campaign headquarters.

How the Internet has fundamentally changed campaigns for 2010: Power now comes from the people. The Webʼs big success stories are based in its inherent populism—its position as giving voice to, rather than talking at, masses of people. If people wish to simply listen or watch, be passively entertained or informed, theyʼll watch TV. A common denominator for success on the Web is that it allows people to get their own voices heard (and images seen), from email to blogs to social networking sites to uploaded videos. From a political perspective, this means creating space for the issues about which your community is or can become intensely passionate and giving them an outlet (your campaign) for them to take action. The barriers to entry in the online community are shrinking every day. Inexpensive and free broadcast mediums (YouTube, Blogger, Wordpress) coupled with cheap tools of creation, (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Gimp) have created a whole new class of media producers. Have you ever heard of “Obama Girl”? People are out there networking, small groups of like-minded individuals are organizing themselves online. Your campaign shoud take advantage of their hard work and their networks. Uninterrupted access to what you and your community cares about (Blackberries, iPhones, and wireless cards allow you and everyone else around the clock wireless access to media, their networks, and to you. Access to these technological tools allows candidates to bypass the filter of mainstream media. When you want to deliver an important message, you are no longer dependent on the media to deliver it for you. It can be as easy and updating your Facebook page or sending out a tweet. It is cheap and cost-effective. The technology allows political candidates to reach more people with less money and more quickly than conventional media. The web holds the potential to be revenue positive for a political campaign, attracting small dollar donors to your cause through the web can not only pay for your online efforts but can actually put positive dollars into your traditional campaign. Candidates can effectively mobilize supporters and rally them to their movement or cause. Supporters can be touched by a number of means, including emails and online messages. Once activated, candidates can use the web to get real people to canvass their neighborhoods, make telephone calls, and convince their friends, families, and associates that you are the best candidate for the job.

Two way and multi-channel communication facilitates civic engagement and creates social capital. Voter turnout in most democracies today is disappointingly low. It is usually a small minority who follow politics 24-7. What remains is a sea of passive observers who choose to get involved only if activated. Having ones voice heard can give people a sense of loyalty to the political system and the motivation to engage in civic activities. Supporters are now able to make their voices heard through their Facebook profiles, their Tweets or by recommending a story on Digg. Candidates for political office must establish an online presence where they can better connect with and target voters socially and organizationally. Rules for building your identity: Content Is King vs. Technology for Technologyʼs Sake First have something to say: donʼt forget that content is still king. These fun-filled and innovative bells and whistles are, above all else, new tools to better enable a skill as old as time itself—communication. But no graphic or clever technology can take the place of great content so be sure youʼre creating and sharing information your recipients are genuinely interested in. Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. – Joseph Pulitzer And give them easy, simple, direct ways by which their voices may be heard and by which they can, individually and in concert, take action. -Ralph Benko Remember to keep your message accessible, dynamic, exciting and easy to share. Take advantage of 2-way communication with real people and strive to make your campaign transparent. Feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up to-date and able to participate in spreading an easy to share message and providing instant feedback. Empowering your community and giving them access will inspire them go to work for you in a tangible way. Give increased access to traditional and non-traditional media, and be sure to take advantage of social network leaders, they are the online “connectors” (see Malcolm Gladwellʼs book “The Tipping Point”) social network leaders can open up doors for you and give you access to online communities of like minded people, in your community and beyond, that you never knew existed or could break into on your own. Somewhere in that expanded community are more donors and voters. Candidates and campaign managers can no longer afford to see voters as mailboxes and points of TV. Passive political involvement officially died in 2008, you are now dealing with community members whom have access to platforms and tools that allow their voices to be heard.

Remember that the Internet does nothing. It is a medium with which you can reach many people at very low cost, and engage them in profound ways. That doesnʼt guarantee that theyʼll be interested in what you offer—or even know that you exist Also remember that campaign messaging has not changed very much, you still need to keep a handle on your campaign message, what is changed is one method of delivering your carefully crafted message not the message itself. What do I need to get started? First and foremost you will need a plan for what you want to accomplish, a Blackberry or smartphone an e-mail management utility, a web designer, a handful of trusted volunteers, donor management software, credit card processing system at your local bank and/or a Paypal account. Buy a good domain name, so people can find your page easily, try to avoid using hyphens and numbers, make your website as easily searchable as you possibly can and try to buy up any common misspellings you can think of. You will likely only need to purchase .com and .org. Have your web engineer point all of your newly purchased domains to your active page. I use but there are many low cost providers out there worth exploring. Never pay more than twenty dollars to reserve a domain name. You will need to purchase a few things to get started as well, try Best Buy or for these. Laptop and mobile Internet card Blackberry or smartphone with data plan (with camera) 5.0 megapixel or better digital camera Digital video camera HDD or Mini DV with digital or analog in, digital out USB Microphone A DVR (to record TV appearances) or digital receiver/recorder like Elgato EyeTV Digital video editing software (iMovie, Windows Moviemaker, Dazzle, Pinnacle) How much will it cost me? As stated before you should lay the groundwork as soon as humanly possible with the free tools available to begin building a base of contacts to work from when you eventually launch your comprehensive and paid web strategy. A good website designer should be able to set up a fully functional website for between 5 and 10 thousand dollars but you can do it yourself for much less. You can get the hardware and software you will need for around a thousand dollars, much more if you want the good stuff, much less if you are able to beg, borrow or steal a few pieces. Most of you probably have a digital camera lying around that will work just fine. Open source platforms such as Joomla! and Wordpress are free tools that allow you to create websites on your own with a minimal investment in the domain and hosting through low cost providers like GoDaddy. A quick online search will turn up online tutorials that will help you get started although I do not recommend this for beginners.

COMPONENTS OF ONLINE IDENTITY: Home Page: Your website is still the hub of your wheel, holding other moving parts together, you live on your website, your website is your virtual campaign Headquarters think of social networks as your employees, working in and around and through your campaign HQ. Your homepage needs to be clean, easy to navigate and constantly updating. A static homepage quickly becomes stale and irrelevant. A boring homepage will not generate sufficient amounts of user participation or attract repeat visitors. Think about your homepage as a telephone number or a single yard-sign along an obscure highway, when you installed your telephone, did that instantly cause important people and large numbers of them to start calling? If you put up just one yard sign on a country road people will have to go hunting for it. Donʼt let that happen to your website, take your website to the people and be where they are online.

IMPORTANT: The four Cʼs of a successful and useful modern campaign website: Content, Contact, Contribute, Connect Content: Breaking news from the campaign, recent articles from local newspapers, online video of speeches and events, information on upcoming events, campaign commercials, mailers, radio appearances, photos from the campaign trail, endorsements and an RSS feed of your latest blog or campaign diary entries. A dynamic media center page. Make sure your media center and news releases have easy to find, grab and use digital content like downloadable images, video with embed codes, audio clips and contact links.

Donʼt bother with lengthy position papers, nobody will read them who does not already have a position on the issue in question. Contact: Ask every visitor to enter in his or her name and email address in return for “staying in touch with you” very few people will sign up for a “newsletter” they get enough of them already. Sometimes this is successfully done with a pop-up screen before the visitor is even allowed to access the campaign website. Resist the temptation to ask for more information here - you can do that later. The goal here is building your list. Be sure to include the standard campaign contact information, email address, physical address, telephone number, P.O. Box and if you happen to be running a campaign in 1992 your fax number. Contribute: Make it hard not to give. A donate button (or buttons). There are many options and designs to choose from, make certain that your ask is prominently featured. Connect: A connect with me graph offering users the option to quickly link up with the campaign on Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Ning, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, or any other networks that spark your curiosity.

A modern political website should be engineered for engagement, prompt visitors to connect, contribute, volunteer, make phone calls and find nearby events. You should not be content in asking visitors to just fill out a volunteer form and wait, make sure that you give them the tools needed to get started on their own. Now you have your website, next you will need to drive traffic to it. EMAIL: Email list building is still as effective as ever. Offer an email list sign up on your home page. Email collection and management will happen on and off line through your website, on and offline petitions, contact links and simply asking for it in person. You can also purchase email appends to your voter file through commercial vendors. Thi can be a costly measure when dealing with limited campaign funds. Make sure you are using your email management system to import every email address you can find, mine your social networks for every valid email address. Many people still do not understand how to use blind carbon copy (bcc) and looking through some of your old email forward chains can yield a lot of addresses. Remember to ask for the county Republican club or other organizations supporting your campaign for their list even though you might not get it. Just make sure that you are always on the lookout for more email addresses and have a protocol to ensure that they all wind up in one place. Be careful not to become a spammer. And know the difference between SPAM and BACN. SPAM is email that the recipient does not want, BACN is email that the recipient wants, just usually not right now you will likely be sending BACN if you are successful. Always remember your audience and be careful to ensure they get the point of your email in the first few lines. Many people will be opening your email blasts on blackberries or phones, so be sure there is enough lead in text content so that your email does not show up as just a bunch of links. Use your email blasts to cross-pollinate your efforts. Ask your recipients to become your friends and connect with you on social media. Invite your social media followers to join your email list. Be sure to highlight the best content from your blog and blogs

following your campaign in your emails and incorporate interactive elements so your readers can provide you with feedback. A couple real life tips on email blasts, the most successful email blasts that I ever sent were plain text, they looked as if they came directly from the candidate and asked the recipient for a small contribution, they came across flawlessly on peoples Blackberrys, were easy to read and drove a ton of traffic, this will not always work but the moral of the story is please do not think that you need to have a fancy huge static banner and a ton of graphics, a couple of pictures are fine, links to relevant and exciting content and opportunities to act and connect are certainly appropriate. Email Signatures: Cross pollinating your efforts can be as simple as getting a modern email signature. In the old days, email signatures pretty much just mirrored business card information: name, company, title, phone, fax and email address. A modern email signature will integrate your social networking information into your email sign-off. After all, the two purposes of an email signature are to tell the recipient a little about yourself (e.g., your title, company and location) and to give them different ways to contact you. Social networking sites are simply an extension of those two functions, giving other people more information about yourself and additional ways to interact. Some elements that you can add to your Web 2.0 email signatures are your Twitter page, LinkedIn profile, MySpace profile, blog link, Facebook page, and of course your website. Wisestamp allows you to add these elements even to your web-based or personal email accounts.

Online Video: For the same reason that television ads have a more significant impact than radio and mail, combining pictures, audio and text in a web ad can have an increased impact on your audience. Online video is the most powerful tool in your arsenal for attracting more visitors more visitors and growing your community, virally spreading your message, quick and clear response to attacks, and impacting your campaign. Content is king, nobody is going to spread around something boring, make your web ads exciting, funny, controversial or extremely informative. Web adʼs do not need to be fancy, they just need to capture attention and be on message. The inexpensive creation tools that the user/producer class has access to and you can use are plentiful, some examples are iMovie, Dazzle, and Windows Movie Maker software, and any inexpensive digital camcorder. Making web videos can be as cheap and quick or as time consuming and expensive as you want to make it. I suggest getting help for the larger projects and posting the raw video for everyday projects. YouTube allows our earlier discussed newly formed user producer class to get involved: YouTubeʼs how to page can be found here: Why does online video matter? Two words, “macaca,” and “cling” as Sen. George Allen and Barack Obama discovered the hard way. There are 4 major video outlets: YouTube / Facebook video / MySpace video and Google video. Higher quality videos can be maintained at sides like Vimeo and YouTube allows you to track who is watching your videos using YouTube Insight. This amazing tool will provide you with real time data and demographics about who is viewing your content online.

Examples of youtube spreading political messages rapidly Ms. California: Perez Hilton: George Allen: Barack Obama: It does not all have to be web ads and gotcha games: An example of an effective, straightforward Facebook video used to great effect by freshman State House member Todd Schlekeway for his legislative update series: profile.php?id=1560120486&ref=ts#/profile.php?id=721180426&ref=ts Viral videos spread across networks rapidly but they must start somewhere. Give your video the best chance at becoming viral by making sure to equip your video with good and relevant “tags” when uploading, these tags will help search engines deliver your video to the people searching for it. For a video about my non-existent run for Governor, I would use the search tags: Casey Phillips, Republican, South Dakota, Governor, 2010, Election, Handsome. Spread any video across your own networks by using the “share” link at the bottom of the video player to post it to Digg, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others, the purpose of the video is after all to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

One mistake campaigns sometimes make: If you are fortunate enough to catch your opponent on video saying something stupid or bad do not try and tell the story yourself by editing the video and holding back the raw footage, Bloggers, and television stations will want the raw footage and will take care of the editing themselves. Feel free to post 2 videos, one with the really juicy parts and one with the raw uncut footage. The nightly news will play online video of your opponent saying something stupid but they will not likely play your web ad with crude graphics and your chosen background music. If what you captured on tape is good enough then let it shine by itself. Example of what not to do: (this is a little better) Instant uploads to Facebook video from your cell phone can help you take video mobile. Make sure to outfit your YouTube profile, and channel just like all of your other social networks and make sure to link them all together.

Search Engine Optimization: There is a whole art called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a way of positioning your site to appear higher in the Google (and other search engine) ranks— i.e. to be higher on the page a user sees when conducting a search. It is extremely challenging to game the system to move your site to be one of the top three entries—or even on the first page of search engine results. You want these results to show up: Not this one: The search engines are very sophisticated in determining which are the most popular sites. Google claims that its system takes into account something like 500 million variables in assigning a page rank. These variables include things like how long you have been on the Web, how extensive your traffic is, how many content-relevant sites link non-reciprocally to yours, and other factors. Constantly updating and adding new content to your sites will put your site/pages higher in the Google returns. Itʼs easier to do in a low profile race than in a higher profile race. Letting your opponent define you on the Internet is 100% unacceptable and is usually one of the first signs of a lost or failing campaign. You can optimize your presence by thinking about how your targets audience may be searching and writing website copy and tagging posts and videos in that way. Put simply, the more places you are on the web, the more mentions of your name that you control, and the more able you are to drive traffic to those entities the better your search engine profile will become. Be aware that this can be a slow process.

Buying Google AdWords is also a quick and easy way to kick start your SEO campaign. AdWords are small advertisements that appear when people search on Google using a keyword such as your name or your opponents name. When someone in the particular state, city, or region that you have chosen to target searches one of your targeted keywords then your ad will appear next to the search results. Google AdWords are an easy and cost effective way to to target voters within your district and boost your online identity. You can learn more about Google AdWords at Online Reputation Management (ORM) Whatever goes on to the Internet is archived and searchable, this can work for or against you. Make sure you are regularly managing your online reputation by promoting and adding fresh content to the sites you control, adding links to positive stories about you and promoting your groups and social networks. Think of these actions as insurance for when the bad stories and blog posts start to come. When the bad stories start to come the only way to bury a bad search engine hit that starts showing up is to start building links to the sites ranking immediately beneath the negative piece in the search results. If you make a significant effort you may be able to boost the sites you want to be seen above the negative pieces. Ensure that the desired keyword terms are in the anchor text of the desired links. The same goes for photos in search engines such as Google Image Search, remember to tag all of your images with positive keywords when uploading to your blog, website or social networks. Also spend a bit of time doing opposition research on yourself, there is no guarantee that you can get something unflattering taken down from the net, and still less likely that it will actually disappear but it never hurts to ask you old college roommate to remove that picture of you with a lampshade on your head from his Facebook page. Note: you can untag pictures of yourself from Facebook but that does not remove them from the site, untag first and then send a message asking for the user to remove the picture. Blogs and Media: In 2009 Press Releases look dramatically different: Without rich and dynamic content such as pictures or video, your old text only press release is nearly worthless. Bloggers also like to make easy posts, give them everything they will need contained or linked in the release. Include a download link to

a high quality headshot from your website that is suitable for publication. Also be sure to allow website visitors and community members to easily post your content directly to their Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites with dynamic links like these: The above example is over the top, but it serves to underscore the basic fact that you should include dynamic content, embed video, high quality photos and important links to outside content sources of interest. Once again be sure to apply the same campaign standard to any content you share. Give your bloggers everything you give your reporters and vice versa, they are rapidly becoming synonymous, treat them as such. Also remember that everyone in your audience has the potential to spread, forward, comment and put their own spin or brand on your content so provide them with the tools to do so. How Social Media and Blogs are realized in traditional media: Reporters like bloggers are more likely to write a story if they are provided with all of the tools necessary. Reporters read blogs and can be swayed by them. Develop and use your contacts with local bloggers to help you break that story you just cant seem to sell to the local paper. Once the editors at the hard to reach paper have seen the story on blogs and public reaction via the comment section the chances they will dispatch a reporter to cover that story or your next story will increase exponentially.

How to spread the good stories. Lets imagine for a moment that you have just nailed an interview with the Meade County Times-Dispatch and you know a great article about you is coming out in tomorrows paper. One small problem is that the MCTD has a circulation of only about 10,000 people. As a candidate building your brand, or fending off attacks, you would really like to get this story in front of as many eyeballs as possible. So you sit down at your computer and use your newly built social media and Internet outreach machine to pump this story out to bloggers and average voters alike. Reporters usually file their stories with the web editor just after they submit them for print, the web editors usually begin posting the next days stories sometime after midnight local time. Google Alerts usually will pick these stories up in the next hour or so but if not, be sure to check the news organizations website and or RSS feed. When this great story arrives in your inbox or RSS reader, step 1: is to email it out to your blogger email list as an ICYMI or (in case you missed it), be sure to add some additional fresh content that is just for them, maybe a picture or an additional quote. Step 2: post the story with the link to the original article on your blog and your website. Step 3: spread the story via your social networks and make it easier for your followers to further spread the message. I recommend first posting the story on your Facebook via Facebook publisher, send a tweet with a tinyurl link back to the story, make sure to get the story added to Digg and, and always remember when reposting and sharing good content to provide your followers with Sharehis or Addtoany buttons so they can spread the content through their own networks as well. It is not uncommon to republish the article in its entirety on your website with links back to the original page. Then you can add all of the sharing buttons to the article there, this will point all new visitors to the shared material back to your website, in theory increasing your page views, funds raised and volunteers signed up.

Blogs, your own blog vs. connecting with other bloggers: Blogs have become absolutely essential to modern political campaigns because of their ability to almost instantly break news and their lack of editorial oversight when dumping opposition research. In the absence of mainstream media attention on a down ballot campaign, many times the blogosphere may be the only or the most accessible source of information about the race. Do not underestimate the power of a committed blog author to build a strong community of followers by offering intelligent and timely commentary, and then to sway the opinions of and to mobilize their sometimes large and loyal readership. The most popular and easiest to use blog hosting and technology sites are Blogger and Wordpress. Other popular sites are Moveable type and Livejournal. I recommend and use Wordpress for all of my blogging needs personal and political. There are more than 72,000 blogs that at least partially cover politcs on the web according to Technorati. More than 10% of all Internet users read blogs and many for local political information. To get heavily involved in the blogosphere it is advisable to or recruit a volunteer who is able to spend the enormous amounts of time scanning, posting, commenting, contributing content and building relationships with the local blogosphere. Starting and maintaining a blog is by far the easiest, quickest and least expensive way to get your message out ever created. So feel free to sign up for a free account and get started, it takes a long time to build a following but do not let that deter you. Use the hometown newspaper standard and link, build, share, track-back, tag and post away. And remember as with everything content is still king. Your relationship with other bloggers: First, find political blogs in your area. Check the BNN Rank for your state, BNN weekly assigns a ranking of political blogs by their influence, their methodology is somewhat secret but they are a very good resource: Search keywords out on Technorati, and Google blog search. Scrolling through the blogroll of political blogs as you find them.

Build and maintain a list of all the blog contributors email addresses for news releases. Spend time building the relationship and getting them to work for you: The best way to make the blogs work for you is to bring them into the campaign, give them access, respect and participate in a 2 way conversation with them. Bloggers like recognition and do a service to the community as a labor of love. It is usually advantageous to throw them a few advertising dollars, some campaigns and political organizations put bloggers on staff or retain them as consultants to solidify the relationship. Bloggers are always looking for the elusive credibility factor, help them find it and you will likely make friends quickly. It is a good idea to offer bloggers news tips and exclusives. Keep in mind that many times bloggers will cover stories that the MSM would likely never cover, so find a couple niche stories and give the blogosphere the exclusive right to cover it.

Bloggers nowadays have a platform and legitimacy, be sure to include them in in everything that you include the local media in, your press conferences, conference calls, issue rollouts, and events. Remember to add dynamic content to your press releases that bloggers and reporters can use alike, many opinion columnists and reporters maintain their own blogs and Twitter accounts nowadays, keep your messaging as consistent as possible between blogs and traditional media, they are becoming synonymous. Offer all of your content for syndication on local blogs, RSS feeds of your content can be made available to be shared on other blogs, the easiest way is to create a campaign Widget they look nice and help you syndicate your content and drive traffic to your site., Below is an excellent example of a well written blog post that incorporates all of the major elements: quotes from other bloggers, track backs, links to more information, opposition research, editorial, news clips, quotes, campaigns, activism, and a call to action. Never let a web attack go unanswered: Quick Reaction comments: The comment section of a political blog regularly draw supporters, observers and contributors allowing the people to have their own say on a blog post or topic. It is common for the supporters of political candidates to have nasty back and forth exchanges in the comments section, make sure that you as a candidate are never ever involved in these sometimes nasty debates.

That is not to say that you should let an Internet attack go unanswered. In fact you should never ever let any attack go unanswered. The question is, who should fight back on your behalf? The general rule is that nobody who is paid by the campaign should post “anonymously” on blogs. Pretty much everyone else is fair game to fight back on your behalf. Many times “Anonymous” comments are allowed on blogs but “anonymous” comments do not have much credibility. For certain it is better to have “anonymous” sticking up for you than nobody. To use the blog comment section effectively for promotion and defense you must find someone with the time and ability to do this for you. They can build credibility with the community by creating a username with the local blogosphere and contribute regularly, you blog reaction team must spend the time to build their own brand if they are tasked with successfully defending your brand. The Obama campaign employed hundreds of blog surfers to never leave an attack unanswered, I know because I run a couple blogs, and every single time someone posted anything anti-Obama a commenter would show up and defend him off the campaigns talking points sheet and also attack back. Refusing to let any attack go unanswered even in the smallest of venues is accomplished by constant monitoring of your name on Google Blogs, and Ask for and get people to help you respond to attacks, this is your online identity after all. Never let a web attack go unanswered. If the attack is bad enough create a response video and get the link up in the comments section under the attack. The Democrats use blogs for character assassination, be ready for it and respond accordingly. WARNINGS: Nothing on the Internet can yet replace a well executed conventional campaign strategy of raising money and knocking door to door. But it can give you an advantage by helping you generate excitement. Watch your employees closely as you monitor your online image. If they blog do not let them get off message or put themselves in a situation to damage your reputation or theirs. I made this mistake in 2005 and it was repeated on the same campaign in 2007. LJ: EB: Donʼt Astro-turf or Flog (fake blogging): Remember TRANSPARENCY is one of the big keys to success on the Internet. Astroturfing is a word that describes a formal political, advertising, or public relations campaign that seeks to create the impression of being spontaneous and legitimate user generated grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf.

Wal-Mart busted for Flogging: fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=51724 Basically Wal-Mart paid a couple of journalists to travel around the country in an RV and stay in Wal-Mart parking lots. The floggers-for-hire wrote about the good people they met in Wal-Mart and the good things the company was doing. The bloggers failed to disclose the financial arrangement with Wal-Mart as their flog developed and the backlash was far worse for the companies image online than the benefit of the flog. Fundraising: There are now 3 distinct types of political fundraisers now due to the spread of the Internet, the old standards of 25 people in a fancy suburban home writing $2,000 checks, and the 200 people at a barbecue writing $200 checks. The emerging class is the 10,000 people who never show up but are drawn into the campaign via the Internet and kick in a few dollars online after an action call. Many fundraising tools are available to the political candidate, Democrats have ActBlue. While Republicans do not yet have an answer for ActBlue several promising sites are trying out new and similar tools. Right now there are two sites, and leading the way at this point. Look for tools to be launched by other GOP aligned groups and PACʼs soon. Basically ActBlue is a tool for collecting money that is raised on blogs via blog links and widgets when bloggers and social network communities deem a candidate worthy. You can do this on your own by making your own widgets and connections with bloggers and building your own social networks, giving them ownership of the process and activating them to give and find others to give to reach a goal. The real beauty of ActBlue lies in the open platform. You donʼt need permission to start fundraising for or sending money to candidates of your choice, the plumbing has been laid out for any motivated person to start making a real difference by raising money from their contacts, all it takes is a few clicks.

Many of the lessons learned from Howard Dean way back in 2004 and still true today. Announce attainable online fundraising goals and ask for help reaching them, use your email list and social networks to help drive traffic to the blogs that are helping you make the push. Build a sharable widget so that blogs can post them that tracks progress toward the goal and immediately directs the possible donors web browser to your websites donate page. Blow your goal away and thank your community, always hit your online goal even if it takes a few phone calls, this will further energize and activate your community. Give your community ownership of the goal realization and then ask for more help on the next deadline. The best tool for online fundraising is still email, concentrate on writing the best copy possible for your email and laying it out as simply and as straightforwardly as possible, remember to include important action items. A timely emotional appeal and giving at least the appearance of a tangible benefit to your audience are key components of a successful fundraising email like the one below: Notice the sense of urgency, celebrity author, multiple contribute links, forward to friend tools, embedded video, goal, deadline and emotional appeal.

Gathering the donations: For the very small campaign, using Paypal to gather online donations is very cheap and very easy to set up and integrate, no brick and mortar bank involved. Be careful of companies that want to charge you high fees to collect online donations. Your local bank can set up a credit card processing account and shopping cart for a small percentage. Do it yourself. SOCIAL NETWORKS: “Joe Six Pack” is now online and he has a Facebook POS Survey: Voters Are Networking By Jim Burton Friday, May 8th, 2009 Public Opinion Strategies completed a national survey of 800 likely 2010 voters (April 19-21, 2009) where we asked a few demographic questions about cell phones and networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  As you would suspect only a small percentage (13%) of voters do not have a working cell phone and one-third of likely voters use networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or Twitter.    Use Social Network Sites: Yes (34% overall) GOP: 29% Ind: 37% Dem: 38% Good rules to social network by: First, do no harm. Not understanding and misusing social networks can cause real and consequential damage to your campaign, make sure everyone on your team has knowledge of what not to do first. Nobody associated with you or your campaign should ever think that anything they do on the Internet is private. Assume that every comment, status update and photo uploaded to any social network or blog is fair game to wind up as front page news. Have a meaningful conversation with every member of your team to ensure that they leverage their personal networks in a positive and constructive way. I have seen one wrong Facebook status update cost a bright young political operative her job and stall her career. Unfortunately no amount of online reputation management is likely to cover up a mistake like that. Social networks allow you the opportunity not just to be found by but to search out and find like minded individuals that can easily be swayed to your cause, Facebook even allows you to search by political affiliation. Another great way to find people to join you is to browse through ideological or regional groups. If you are running for state senate in Sioux Falls South Dakota a few good groups to start with would be the “Vote Yes for life” South Dakota group and the “Augustana College Alumni” Group. Once you have located a few friends, joined a few groups and started building a following of like-minded people make sure to do what does not seem to come natural to most people, interact with them in a meaningful way. Make sure you cultivate relationships with your social network friends. It is not enough to have them add you as a friend. Stop by their page to wish them a happy birthday or congratulations on a

wedding or engagement. Take note of your friends status updates and take some time to read and respond to your friends updates - pay special attention to messages sent directly to you and respond to them promptly. Do not be afraid to cut the cord and take your network with you on your mobile, just remember to not let your Blackberry get between you and a real live person. Private profiles are not an option, and trying to maintain two separate profiles will likely lead to confusion and mistakes. Try hard to consolidate your networks and make room for your new political friends by taking down the potentially embarassing pictures from college. Messaging reminder: Message control is crucial in social networks. Have you read about a politicianʼs mistweet recently in the media? Do you have reporters and bloggers as followers or friends? It is easy for anyone in your networks to grab a screen shot of your slip up and send it out to blogs all over the country. Control yourself, think clearly, and have a firm grasp of how to use the technology at your disposal. Social networks have changed many aspects of political campaigns but none so much as upsetting the traditional top down campaign information flow. The structure of the campaign has become spread out, transparent and open to encourage citizen access and participation. While all well and good, even the Obama campaign proved that even with all the structural campaign operation seemingly transparent, the campaign message flow was very tightly controlled. Although activists got to have their say on cooler heads must prevail in the newsroom. Understand your own messaging strategy, and implement it. The interactive audience can be a great test market for your messages, and they can provide you with nearly instant feedback, but remember that no successful messaging strategy has ever been run by an angry mob, otherwise wouldn't we have a more rosy image of angry mobs? Listen to your mob but let cooler heads prevail. The real secret to keeping your people happy is to listen. They wonʼt expect every idea they send you to come out of your mouth or wind up in a news release but as is the beauty of the Web 2.0 they want their voice heard, so go ahead and listen. WARNINGS: the larger the campaign the more tightly controlled the message should be, do not tweet about everything. In most large operations the candidate may suggest topics for tweets but should not actually be tweeting. If you plan on doing it yourself I urge you to think critically, watch your tone, follow the doʼs and donʼts and know where the line between normal person and candidate for office is. Watch your staff and their social networks, make sure they are using a hometown standard as well, it can be an embarrassing distraction to the campaign to have nude photoʼs of your press secretary on the local political blog.

People are not on Facebook to be marketed to or to be told what to think, they are there to engage their friends and build their network, find old friends and occasionally strike up a conversation. Bring value to them or do not come at all K.I.S.S. this stuff is not that hard, search, build, listen, respond, engage, control your message and follow back. The Basic Sites: FACEBOOK: “Facebook is such a cool and easy way for me to connect with my fans while I'm on the road,” said Britney Spears. “I love that I can update my status, blog and post videos and photos all in one place.” (if Britney can do it, you can do it) Step-by-step instructions for any public figure or organization wanting to create a presence on Facebook and best-practice suggestions for public figures, non-profits or other organizations can be found at The rules, Fill out your profile, donʼt be scared and be sure to be as real and honest as possible Interact (the like button takes almost no effort) Commenting or piling on a discussion will put your profile into news feeds of others in the discussion. Add everyone who requests you. Search for like-minded individuals (political affiliation, hometown, current town, personal and professional email contacts search). Have and plug your fan group (give titles to your best online supporters). Upload and tag friends in photos and videos. Read your news feed so you know whatʼs happening in your supportersʼ lives. Lastly but most importantly - Be very careful, and mind your image. Facebook stats: More than 200 million active users, two-thirds of Facebook users are outside of college and the fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older. The average user has 120 friends in their network Activity: 850 million photos and 8 million videos uploaded to the site each month. More than 1 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) shared each week. More than 2.5 million events are created each month. More than 25 million active user groups. And it is growing rapidly. Features of Facebook: Wall - The Wall displays the most recent and relevant information on a profile. The Wall is a collection of what the user shares as well as what those connected to them are sharing. People can easily comment on the content posted.

Publisher - Just as a user can add content such as status updates, photos, and videos to any of their connectionsʼ profiles, the Publisher provides a simple interface for sharing content.

News Feed – Users receive updates in News Feed every time they visit Facebook. The latest content shared by their friends is organized before them in a timeline. Build your brand: You or someone you know can spend a few bucks to set up a group and advertise regionally and in advantageous networks to help create a buzz about your campaign or to further positive rumors about you, and of course negative ones about your opponent. The below ad was legitimately organic and placed by a local activist without knowledge of the campaign and it generated exactly the desired effect. Brian Dubie not only gained new Facebook friends and followers, the simple ad also generated blog postings and buzz all over the state for pennies. September 1st, 2009 Dubie Running Low-Level Ad Campaign (ARTICLE EDITED) by Philip Baruth: Lite Governors all share the dream of being one day less Lite. Our bet was that Dubie does, and as of yesterday we picked up a few shreds of proof. Now, sure, this ad purports to be the work of a group trying gamely to encourage Dubie to run. But Facebook ads, like all others, cost money, and there are various potential risks and hoops if you’re starting a page for someone other than yourself. Which is to say that this page was almost certainly started with Dubie’s assent, as a placeholder until the semi-official announcement is leaked to the press. And should Dubie decide, for whatever reason, to jelly-leg at the last possible moment, this ad can vanish without a trace, without attribution, and without embarrassment.

Who’s behind them then VDB? You or your friends? Exhibit A: the Facebook ad. Facebook Advertising: I certainly suggest taking advantage of the minimal cost of Facebook advertising, you can set it up to pay per impression or pay per click, I suggest you and your team spend some time to think through targeting and message in your ad, it is a very cheap way to get yourself in front of a lot of eyeballs for very minimal cost.

Finding new friends on Facebook: It is generally frowned upon to mine for information on social media profiles for use outside of Facebook, that is why it is the most popular of the social network sites. Most Facebook profiles are private so you wont be able to access much information from people who are not already your friends. Expand your network by allowing Facebook to search your personal address book; Outlook Contacts, Gmail address book etc using the “find friends” function. As you look to expand your reach begin by searching for people within your geographic network, political philosophy, mutual friends, and or trolling groups of like-minded people to find prospective friends and allies. Watch your limits on outstanding friend requests: Beware that if you want to friend request everyone in the “I support Governor Barbour” Facebook group and you do it all at one time you could be blocked by Facebook as they limit the amount of outstanding friend requests that may have out at one time. Bottom line: Facebook is the most powerful social network on the Internet today period. Learn to master Facebook first, use contact importer to find people you already know. Spend time here first and then move on to some more exotic sites once you have mastered the all powerful Facebook. TWITTER: Twitter is a micro-blogging site that lets users interact with each other around one simple question: What are you doing?

Doʼs and Donʼts of Twitter: #1. Have message discipline, do not tweet anything that you donʼt want to see in your hometown newspaper because it will hopefully wind up there. DO: 1. Tweet VALUE (content is king) 2. Create a user-friendly Twitter ID (@yourname) 3. Your first choice for a Twitter ID should be your name. If your name is taken find a way to keep it as close as possible. There are only 140 precious characters available in each Twitter post. The longer your Twitter ID, the more space it takes up. 4. Be clear but donʼt be afraid to abbreviate >140 is tough 5. Use a clear picture 6. Learn the lingo. As with any new network there is a learning curve. Twitter has a quirky lingo all its own. But donʼt let that hold you back from interacting. If you donʼt understand something, ask someone. 7. A few of the essentials: • DM = Direct Message • @ = Use to reply and always include proceeding a Twitter ID in a reply • RT = Retweet • Tweet = Sending a message on Twitter 8. Make your links clear and prominent 9. Use Tinyurl, shrink shared links in order to maximize the description 10. Use hashtags to optimize search to allow others to find you 11. Follow people back 12. Retweet good content and promote others who share your best content. 13. Reply promptly to direct messages and @replies 14. Take it mobile - use that smartphone! 15. Link to Facebook status and website/blog/feed/Digg 16. Spend some time finding locals and opinion leaders, journalists in your area 17. Think critically about what your voters and locals might be tweeting about and use to find them (what is popular? local sports teams, high schools, landmarks, churches, hobbies, clubs, recreation, sports) 18. Syndicate using widgets and get posted 19. Promote your Twitter page: with “follow me on Twitter” links 20. Read tweets, they will help you know what is going on if you are following the right people you will learn valuable information about the goings on in your community. 21. Read the bio of those who follow you (determine if they will add to your network in a positive way) following Aston Kutcher is not likely to help you win votes or know what is happening in Helena Montana. 22. Learn about when you should “@” versus DM (i.e. direct message) 23. Follow the reporters in your area via the (TRACKVIA: Media on Twitter Database) 24. Have fun.

DONʼT 1. Follow back people who add nothing to your campaign, Take quality followers and tweeters over over quantity, I know it is tempting to want more followers but they only serve to clog your feed and take away from real people who will add value. 2. Twitter is not a popularity contest so do not treat it as such. 3. Push too hard or try too hard, shameless self promotion is frowned upon. 4. Lecture / Talk down to people 5. Be Oprah who has a million followers and follows nobody, it will create the image that you donʼt care what your community is saying and you are not listening 6. Be Boring 7. Tweet everything, especially do not tweet about food etc., nobody cares 8. Tweet anything you donʼt want to see on the front page of your hometown newspaper wprss=virginiapolitics Leaky Tweets Sink...Rosalind Helderman Are there no secrets anymore? One of the mysteries of the Virginia gubernatorial campaign thus far has been when Republican Bob McDonnell will take to the television airwaves, particularly now that a Democratic political action committee has bought $550,000 in commercial time to slam him statewide. We may now have a piece of the answer--thanks to a 23-year old film production assistant in Boston. Yesterday, one Jonathan Paula Twittered the following to his roughly 1,000 followers: I work 45 hours a week as an assistant editor in Boston editing political campaign commercials. Right now: Bob McDonnell for VA Gov Three hours after Paula tweeted, the item had found its way to Ben Tribbett, who runs the Not Larry Sabato blog, who posted an item suggesting McDonnell will soon be on air. And now we're off to the races, as the campaigns pop the item back and forth and speculate how soon the ads Paula was editing will go on air.

What is a hashtag -#? Hashtags are a way for like minded people to find each other or to follow conversations outside of their group on Twitter. Placing the # sign in front of keywords or targeted groups, makes it easier to track all conversations in the Twitter timeline via search. As i write this Twitter informs me that #fpdc is one of the top tweeted words on Twitter. One click and I find out that there is a Free Press convention in DC this weekend, attendees and fans are having a conversation about the convention, planning to meet up for happy hour or excited for a certain speaker, yet others are talking about how the whole thing is a huge waste of time. Candidates and causes often create their own #tags hopefully yours will catch on like mine, #cwp=theman Some good sample Tweets to get your off and twrunning and twthinking: • Who is angry about the proposed tolls on I-99 #rapidcity #TCOT #nonewtolls • Come sign our petition against new tolls at #rapidcity #nonewtolls • A great picture of us at a rally with @jeffcamp & @stephjones • Help us win the magnoliareport online poll: #tcot #sdgop • Need new asics from all this door to door, may wear them out this wknd in Pierre • email if you can come canvass with us Saturday in Pierre • No dog bites today walking doors, a couple close calls here in Mitchell • Stopped in Puckwana on the way to Mitchell, had lunch and Sallyʼs diner • Retweet: @sallysally making calls for Phillips 4 GOV! (Thanks Sally) • Our volunteers are the greatest 2200 calls last night, thank you #jimbojones & @sallysally • Are we all Facebook friends? Add me at • Yard signs finally arrived, call or txt 605-605-6050 with your address

• Big rally with Governor Popular tonight in Harrisburg, come down and join us • Sturgis Scoopers homecoming tonight, hurrying so we donʼt miss kickoff • RCJ profile on our race this morning please Retweet if you like it • Heading to Rex Ross radio show in SF tonight on 97.4 at 5, talking about taxes • If you missed the Rex Ross interview the audio clip up on our blog • @4eyesdoc @cowboybob thank you for donating on our website • @jjrobinson of course, i am a pro-life, anti-tax fiscal conservative thanks for asking, help us spread the word here • My record is clear on tax cuts, read about it here #sdgop #phillips4gov • SD Dems sending out distortions today, bring nasty flyer to office get a t-shirt #sdgop • Thank you @redblogger for setting my tax record straight: #tcot • Op-ed today in the Argus about my opponents disingenuous tactics • We need some more foot soldiers for election day • Need to raise another 750 dollars before midnight to reach our goal #sdgop • Election night party tonight: details here please join us #phillips4gov What is a TWEETUP A real world meeting between two or more people who know each other through the online Twitter service. Basically the use of your Twitter network to help you drive attendance at your already planned political events, fundraisers, press conferences, super Saturday door knocks etc. Tweetups are meetings between Twitterers best to use the service to drive attendance to your events instead of plan separate events around Twitter alone. Possible help services for driving real life attendance at a campaign function, and Other important social networks: WIKIPEDIA: Do not under any circumstances neglect to update and monitor your wikipedia page. This is a crucial component of your online identity that can be manipulated by anyone and returns high on search results. MYSPACE: Myspace allows you to search, find, and make new friends, has a very open and customizable platform that can be easily manipulated. Although users are declining due to spamming they still have the 2nd largest community with new users joining everyday. Myspace also allows you to follow your friends updates, share updates and upload photos and videos.

GOOGLE PROFILE: Very easy to set up: takes 10 minutes A Google profile is simply how you present yourself on Google products to other Google users. It allows you to control how you appear on Google and tell others a bit more about who you are. With a Google profile, you can easily share your web content on one central location. You can include, for example, links to your blog, online photos, and other profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. You have control over what others see. Your profile won't display any private information unless you've explicitly added it. You can also allow people to find you more easily by enabling your profile to be searched by your name. Simply set your existing profile to show your full name publicly. Google Friend Co

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