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Why Political Campaigns Need a New Media Director – Social Media Use Beats $ in Newark, NJ Election

A Campaign Reaches All Its Constituents – Smart Use of Social Media Works in Campaigns

Stephanie Noble acted as the Director of Social Media Outreach to the understaffed and underfunded Darrin Sharif for Newark, New Jersey Central Ward Council political campaign. The goal was to effectively reach a diverse constituency via social media to battle the well-funded incumbent, Charles Bell who had the support of Brick City’s Mayor, Cory Booker. By implementing Noble’s strategy, the candidate’s Facebook friends increased 120%, fans by 320%, Twitter followers by 475%, andTwitter hashtag mentions tally 200. Favorable articles were bookmarked on Digg 22 times, 17 on Yahoo! Buzz’s, and linked from many facebook profiles. Bit.ly, a url shortener, was strategically used to gauge message penetration within different audiences, including Spanish-language homes. FourSquare.com was used as a public relations tool to demonstrate the candidate’s presence in the neighborhood and
support of local businesses. Analytics were constantly monitored to make more informed decisions. Return on the volunteers hours via social media was incredible. The majority of Facebook posts received comments and shares. The content was engaging and relevant.

Videos were posted on YouTube of the candidates conversations with voters and of just the voters themselves discussing their concerns for the area. Visibility increased dramatically as the video media was picked up by Vimeo and other sites while supporters took it upon themselves to post the videos within their social networks. Wider, even national, presence was gained via Newark residents posting content to CNN’s iReport and by posting comments in response to politically charged articles about Newark on the Huffington Post and others. The content served as more than conversation starters, the content serves as proof of the candidate’s eagerness to engage all voters.

As the content went viral, supporters organically grew the social media presence by posting their own photos of the candidate at events. Volunteers and residents tweeted without prompting about Darrin Sharif being seen in their neighborhood. They checked in, via FourSquare, to the campaign headquarters at 506 Springfield avenue in Newark and broadcast to their network commitment to the underdog. The end result? Darrin Sharif came in second place during the first election. No candidate received 51% of the vote and thus there was a run-off. After his opponent received nearly double Darrin’s votes in the first election, Darrin Sharif won the run-off for Newark, NJ Central Ward Councilman by 11 votes and was inaugurated The Honorable Darrin Sharif July 1st, 2010.

Political campaigns have a bottom line just like private corporations. For the campaigns it’s all about committed voters. A well run campaign knows its numbers. It knows how many “touches” it needs to have to bank a committed voter. Well now there’s a new way to reach out and touch voters. Social media is another platform for reaching voters and for enhancing the ability of those voters to reach and inform their networks.

Stephanie Noble can be reached at [email protected] or 973-392-4896.

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Alex Showerman

This is an excellent example of how effective social media can be! If only more politicians would adopt this type of communication and engagement.