Microtargeting with MySpace

Crossposted atFuture Majority

The Washington Post took a look again this week at "microtargeting" of voters, which they define as:

the new science (some say dark art) by which candidates use the latest data-mining technology to vacuum every last scrap of information about voters, then churn out custom-tailored messages designed to herd their supporters to the polls
This is, in my eyes, the future of politics. Targeting masses of people within huge demographics is such a blunt tool that it is bound to completely miss large percentages of the targeted audience.

As we have noted on Future Majoritynumerous times, young people are a great place for campaigns to look for support, but with the emergence of microtargeting as a campaign communication tactic they should be even more enticing. Take a look at any of the social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, and you quickly see that young people are telling the entire world about their tastes, desires, dreams, etc.  And, there are cheap and easy to use tools that can help campaigns to do the targeting for them. For myspace there is the FriendBlaster Pro and Badder Adder, both of which help you to add up to 500 friends a day (any more than this gets you in trouble with the MySpace police) according to a large number of easy to configure variables. They can also help to manage labor intensive tasks such as adding comments to large numbers of pages and keeping up to date on bulletins. (I haven't been able to locate a friend adding program for Facebook. If you know of one please leave the URL in the comments)

Update:
I almost forgot to mention this article, which looks at MySpace's new voter registration push - MySpace launches voter-registration plan:

The youth-heavy online hangout MySpace.com is launching a voter-registration drive to engage its members in civics. In partnership with the nonpartisan group Declare Yourself, MySpace is running ads on its highly trafficked Web site and giving members tools such as a "I Registered To Vote On MySpace" badge to place on their personal profile pages.

"Young people in this country ... are really engaged in what's happening in their community and want to make a difference," said Jeff Berman, MySpace's senior vice president for public affairs. "The key is to make it easy for them to get engaged. By putting these tools on MySpace and putting it in front of their eyes, you make it far more likely they will use them."

I hope that every candidate has this on their MySpace account! It boggles my mind when I find campaigns, including the DNC's field campaign, that don't register people to vote.

Tags: Facebook, field, Millennials, MySpace, Social networking, Youth Outreach (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Great post, Alex.  MySpace and social networking tools like it are going to be extremely important as early as this cycle.  Republicans go on and on about The Voter Vault, but in fact you don't need any kind of large database to do micro-targeting anymore.  The information is all out there and readily available.

by dday 2006-09-28 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

I'm on a big campaign who has been active on Myspace and Facebook, and we've gotten not one single volunteer from those sources.  

by buffalo girl 2006-09-28 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

When you say "active"...what do you mean? How have you been soliciting volunteers?

by greg bloom 2006-09-29 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

I would love to take a look at your messsaging and what activities you were trying to push. Were there any young people involved in the process? (And, though I know that this is a forbidden subject, how cool are they?)

Our MySpace outreach will be used to tell young people about chances to see free concerts (we are working about 40 concerts between now and Nov. 7th, registering voters, identifying volunteers, and talking with the youngens about the importance of the election), events we're throwing (including one featuring sex columnist Dan Savage), parties featuring Philly's hottest DJs, and contests for iPods and other stuff.

If you're simply using MySpace to say "hey, come make phone calls!" or "hey, come canvass with your parents!" then I suspect that you wouldn't find many volunteers at all...

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-29 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Alex, do you have some specific anecdotes about things that have worked for you all so far? Or is much of your MySpacing work still ahead of you?

by greg bloom 2006-09-29 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

We purchased the friend adding software today, so I'll have to let you know how it goes. I can tell you that the music promoters that I work with use it with great success- but the key is to make it fun and not seem like spam.

I'll have a better idea of how effective it is in the next week or two. My guess is that we'll have pretty good success given that we're working at all of these concerts, are offering volunteers free access to see bands that they list under their interest(free to them- we, as a PAC, have to pay for tickets), and we're throwing some kick ass parties featuring world class DJs.

I would guess that if I just sent out a request that simply told them to "get political" or vote that it would be a pretty tepid response. But- I don't plan to do things in that way, so I really won't have a test case amongst my own sample. If anyone else is doing outreach via MySpace and wants to compare tactics vs. results at the end of the election, please let me know...

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-29 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Sure your not a Republican?

by JMART766 2006-09-28 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

I've been exposed! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-29 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Great post, Alex UA.  We need to own MySpace.  Campaigns should offer code snippits the way Lamborghini and BMW does.

Once a users pimps her myspace with some banners, buttons links, GOTV info, it lives on her MySpace page for all to see...

It's like wearing a campaign t-shirt every single day.

At the very least.

by dereau 2006-09-28 11:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Thanks Fred!

For those who don't know him, Mr. Dereau here has been advocating for campaigns to use MySpace since before there was even any of these Internets.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-29 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

My Dad, Jack Carter, has a pretty well-developed MySpace page:

www.myspace.com/jackcarter2006

But, so far, it's been a little hard to tell how big an impact it'll make.  We're still growing linearly (rather than exponentially), so I feel like it hasn't "caught on" yet.

Sarah

by Sarah R Carter 2006-09-28 11:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Well, I would think long and hard about what people are actually doing on myspace (listening to music, connecting with friends, finding out about parties/concerts) when you try to determine how effective you can be. If you don't have an effective youth-outreach strategy then MySpace is pretty much useless. But- if you can attract kids in real life, then you can attract them here. MySpace is, after all, a social networking site, so you have to think about the basics of what young people want from their social interactions/scene.

What is your fathers plan for reaching out to young voters? What types of events are you putting on/attending that might attract young people? Does he have a specific message, or a set of messages, aimed at young people?

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-29 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

I agree that we need to reach out in real space to have a successful MySpace presence.  We're doing everything we can on college campuses (my Dad and my grandpa (Jimmy Carter) just held a big rally at UNR), and I've been plugging the MySpace and Facebook profiles whenever we talk to younger voters.

We're hoping to really gear it up (along with everything else) over the next two weeks or so.

Sarah

by Sarah R Carter 2006-09-29 08:59AM | 0 recs
Campaign sites should offer absentee voting info

It boggles my mind when I find campaigns, including the DNC's field campaign, that don't register people to vote

Campaign web sites also should make it easy for people to request absentee ballots.

I had to ask the Francine Busby campaign (CA-50) to post links and info on its web site before the special election.

by Ottnott 2006-09-28 11:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Good post, Alex.

I think it's also interesting to note that Facebook has chnaged to allow more political activity. They recently added a feature that allows members to indicate who you are supporting in the upcoming elections. It's also a recent development that Facebook allows politicians to become members (usually it's only people with a .edu e-mail address). This seems to indicate to me that these sites are moving towards increasing political participation and are becoming more useful to campaigns.

by Kevin W 2006-09-29 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

Murdoch owns myspace!  He is and will keep using YOUR info to target you!  Maybe sell or give that info to gdub and friends.

Come with me comrade... we have places for people like you.

by kevin22262 2006-09-29 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Microtargeting with MySpace

I was going to mention that Rupert Murdoch owns MySpace but you beat me to it Kevin lol.

When I ran for office at my university in 2002, MySpace or Facebook didn't exist, but we had a program called OnCourse that served as a hub linking you to fellow classmates.  We used it extensively in the campaign and my ticket took 2/3 of the total vote.

In 2003 when we were running again, two of the three sides had an extensive online campaign operation and the results were much closer.  The team that used traditional campaign methods, i.e. flyers, even free pizza, came in a distant third place.

Microtargeting works.

by HoosierJosh 2006-09-29 10:16PM | 0 recs

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