While the headline of the article was “leaders court bloggers” the article actually had very little to do with blogging, but was more about things like Facebook and YouTube are impacting the political process in
That said, it was still an interesting read, and I think pollster Nik Nanos has it essentially correct:
"Social-marketing campaigns are kind of like nuclear weapons: other folks have them, so you have to have them," says Nik Nanos, a political strategist with Toronto-based Nanos Research.
"You need bloggers, you need people posting video, you need people participating in comments, you need people mobilizing on Facebook. Because if you don't, you're basically ceding the online political dialogue to your enemies."
While a federal election won't be won or lost on the Internet, Nanos predicts it will be the primary battleground for campaigners' "black ops" missions.
While it is an evolving situation, at the moment I think the ability for social marketing and Web 2.0 to influence political debate is limited, although it is growing.
There is strong fundraising potential on the Web, for example, with the ability to raise money in small amounts with targeted, quick-response, issue-based campaigns. This is more evolved in the
And then there’s what Nanos calls the black ops missions, the dirt. Bloggers aren’t journalists, and while they must be careful not to run afoul of libel laws, they aren’t bound by the same journalistic standards as the mainstream media and they’re less likely to fact check. Therefore, for the party war room it’s easier to get a blogger to bite on a potentially borderline negative story the media wasn’t interested in.
Here again, though, I’d point out that blogdom needs the MSM to be relevant. If the negative piece remains in blogland its impact remains small, when it gets picked up by the MSM its mission accomplished. If the operatives can create enough noise in blogland then the MSM may not be able to ignore it. By breaking it in the blogs first too, it can also give the MSM cover, allowing them to cover the news rather than breaking it.
Where blogs do have more potential to make an impact on their own is when someone screws-up, such as the Mike Klander incident in the last campaign. I think Warren Kinsella is off track here though:
… in the coming campaign, the Liberals and/or the NDP will likely make use of the offensive "Blogging Tory"/Conservative bloggers statements in their advertising - Shaidle calling Muslim children "parasites," McMillan's anti-native and anti-black garbage, and so on…
I naturally see other bloggers obviously reminding us of such incidents, and perhaps parties trying to push such lines in their earned media but I can’t see parties trying to tie blogger comments to politicians in paid advertising. There would need to be a strong connection, more than just a photo. The Klander thing took off because he held a somewhat senior party position. If it’s just a blogger in their basement that self-identifies as a supporter of party X I don’t see it working.
Off topic for a moment, but I laughed when I read this about Harper’s Facebook profile:
Harper's page has disabled the wall option altogether, leaving few options for people who want to provide feedback.
Speaks volumes to the interest Stephen Harper et al. place in what people think.
Anyway, there is a lot happening in Web land. In
Back to the headline of the article though, Leaders court bloggers. I don’t think they are, which is perhaps why the article didn’t really go there. At least not so much on the progressive side, on the Conservative side I think it’s another story. But since I’ve just spent 600+ words largely arguing against the relevancy of bloggers, do I think they should be courted?
I do. Because while blogland’s influence is minimal today it is growing, and the potential is there. Because younger voters are harder to get, and they’re more tuned-in to blogging and social networking. And because in an increasingly fragmented communications marketplace, you need to utilize every avenue you can to get your message out.
Blogdom’s potential will only be realized though if the blogsphere matures somewhat; examples like those