Campaigning with Social Media

By Naomi Dillon

Four years ago, Barack Obama delivered a stunning victory at the presidential polls, in no small part because of his campaign’s ability to harness the power of social media to build grass roots support.   And so it was for Steve Knagg, who threw his hat into the school board race earlier this year after a short-lived retirement and longtime career with the Garland Unified School District in suburban Dallas.

A seasoned communications professional, Knagg had been instrumental to the district’s unblemished record of successful bond referendums. But he soon discovered the world had dramatically changed in the five years since he retired.

“It seems to me, the way people want to get their information these days is on a little screen in their hand,” Knagg notes.

Mobile technology and social media have arguably been the 21st century’s most disruptive innovations. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, two-thirds of Americans who go online do so to visit social networking sites. And many of them do so from smart phones, which about half of all Americans own.

Such ubiquity has changed the way people interact, connect, and exchange information. It’s even altered the political process. Indeed, another Pew survey found more than one-quarter of respondents citing social networking sites as an important source for political news, debate, and rallying.

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