2012 conventions embracing reach of social media
CHARLOTTE — Democrats and Republicans are using social media to turn their national conventions away from the smoke-filled rooms of yore and into meetings where anyone who wants to get involved is just a click away, no matter where they are.
Both parties’ ambitious plans reflect the maturation of social media sites that played a much smaller role in the conventions four years ago. The Republicans call theirs a “convention without walls,” while the Democrats say their gathering will be “the most open and accessible in history.”
Democrats will not just show prime-time speeches live on the Internet, but will also stream caucus meetings and the council discussions of the party’s platform and ideals over the Web. Republicans have hired a full-time blogger and a full-time digital communications manager to do nothing but engage people online.
The conventions’ Facebook and Twitter sites are already stoking interest in the events, with photos of the Republican stage under construction in Tampa or profiles of Democratic volunteers and delegates.
Social media was still in its infancy four years ago. The number of items posted on Twitter on Election Day 2008 is equal to about six minutes worth of tweets today, the social media company recently wrote on its blog.
The dramatic changes in social media have required both parties to almost start from scratch in developing strategies for incorporating Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Flickr into their conventions.
In 2008, Republicans hired a web vendor to handle all things Internet for their convention. Now, there’s a dedicated social media team with its own “Social Media War Room” in the Tampa Convention Center.
The party’s biggest push through the Internet will come through videos on YouTube, Republican National Convention spokesman James Davis said.
“Our goal is to leverage these technologies, to reach every American, whether they are in Toledo, Ohio, the convention floor in Tampa or a forward operating base in Afghanistan,” he said.
Democrats will have a similar setup at their convention Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte. (Republicans meet a week earlier in Tampa.)
“We’re able to expand it even further and invite the whole country to participate in a more interactive way then you might traditionally experience by tuning into a television,” said Nikki Sutton, director of digital media for the 2012 Democratic Convention.
And those planning protests are using the Internet to get organized, too. The March on Wall Street South, which plans to bring thousands to Charlotte to rally against big business and economic inequality, has a website, Facebook page and Twitter account.