Voter-Generated Content

I imagine when politicians first got wind of this “new thing” called the web, they thought it would be another means for them to stay “masters of their own message.”  This tool would enable them to bypass the media to go directly to voters.  Well, surprise, here come the voters!  Empowered by a PC and a broadband connection, Obama girl gets more hits than an Obama speech and YouTube viewers, not the Gang of 500, set the political discourse in politics 2008.

With voter-generated content, the voters are talking back.  My money is on the candidate who hears the voters and invites them in the campaign.  The excitement and energy generated by Barack Obama’s candidacy is evident in the sheer volume of voter-generated content his campaign has inspired.  Type “Barack Obama” into YouTube and you’ll get more than 250,000 results.  Try “Barack Obama Song” to narrow it down?  You’ll get more than 17,000 videos to peruse.  How about Obama merchandise on Google?  285,000 results.  Obama uniquely launched Runway to Change  and Artists for Obama where everyday artists and well-known designers can create and sell campaign merchandise.  The campaign absorbed the movement into their own, without losing the power and feel of its grassroots origins. 



What is evident throughout the pro-Obama content is the hope and inspiration behind his campaign.  Everything, from “Barack Obama is my Homeboy” to “One Million Strong,” is hope, change, a movement, power, positive, inspiration.  Clay Shirky would be proud.  The promise and the bargain are there.  With voter-generated content through a PC and broadband, the voters have the tool.

On the other side of the aisle, you can see the lack of a promise or a bargain by the McCain campaign.  The content here is all over the place, anti-Obama, anti-Democrats, pro-God, anti-government and maybe a little pro-McCain.  The message from voters is what they are against, not what they are for.  And it’s evident they are against Obama more than they are for McCain.  Take a look here – keep scrolling, scrolling, a little more, and you might find one pro-McCain piece of merchandise.

The majority of pro-Palin content either played on her sexuality:

 or her conservative views: 

For McCain, the material was hard to find and the message was “I’m for McCain because I don’t want the other side” as opposed to “I’m for McCain’s message.”  Or “McCain inspires me.”  (I guess it’s hard to generate creative ideas around earmark reform?) 

Country music came through for the Republicans once again though, with country star John Rich creating the “Raisin’ McCain” song and video to rally support for McCain.  The campaign embraced it too, featuring the video at the Republican National Convention.

 The most interesting feedback was how the voter-generated content differed from my experience with the liberal (Huffington Post) v. conservative (Hot Air) blogs.  In that case, the liberals were spreading the anti-McCain, anti-Republican negative message, while the conservatives were more positive in rallying around their candidate McCain.  With this, the opposite was true but both sides had the same mission:  leveraging the internet to support their views.



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