How Campaigning in a Web 2.0 World Differs
This morning the New York Times explored "Campaigns in a Web 2.0 World"and while they captured the user-generated nature of Web 2.0 technology (YouTube, Facebook, Blogs, etc.), they neglected the role social networks play in increased the speed at which messages are spreading across the Internet.
Leveraging social networks has long been a staple of political campaigns. Historically, one of the first tests of a presidential campaign its ability to recruit the New Hampshire party activists with the largest number of personal contacts - something typically recorded on index cards from the last presidential race.
While the political social networks of the past allowed campaigns to spread targeted messages, the speed at which new messages spread via online social networks has shortened the media cycle.
Whereas contacts in traditional social networks are typically closely guarded, the advent of blogging and the practice of bloggers using hyperlinks has allowed for the measurement and mapping of these networks.
Through looking at the linking behavior between blogs and the particular sources of content bloggers focus attention on, social networks of bloggers can be identified and mapped.
Campaigns can then use this data both to target supporters for mobilization and to find opportunities for persuading new audiences.
As reported in the Columbia Journalism Review, Morningside Analytics recently produced a new map of political blogs for a study being conducted by Columbia University's Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Alongside equally large clusters of longstanding Conservative and Liberal Bloggers, our link analysis reveals new clusters formed specifically to drive election messages. The value of this approach, setting up hundreds of like-minded new blogs, is questionable compared with finding savvy ways to engage the online public on its own terms. As Morningside's John Kelly describes in the CJR piece: