Monthly Archives: February 2010

Beyond Campaigning: Social Media’s Growing Role in Politics

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

In celebration of our greatest presidents we at Fanscape are taking a closer look at politics in the age of social media. Where it came from, where we’re at and where it’s going.

In the 2004 election Dr. Howard Dean emerged from virtual obscurity to become a viable presidential candidate – due in large part to his online fundraising efforts. To fund his campaign, he encouraged supporters to send online donations and visually tracked the progress on his website.  Many credit Dean as the pioneer for online campaigning and the inspiration for President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign developed by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

As we saw in 2008, President Obama took the use of the web and social media to a new level, harnessing its power to mobilize his supporters from the ground up.  More recently, increasing numbers of those in Congress have turned to Twitter as a primary means of communication with their constituents and counterparts. Whether it’s providing a community for supporters to team up or an avenue to lash out directly to your representative, social media is becoming firmly entrenched in the political sphere.


Although it may have been a case of too little too late, John McCain also delved into the social space in 2008 with his own networking site coined McCainSpace and a blog run by his daughter at The project did not see the same level of success as Obama’s, but it is certainly safe to say that the 2008 election was the first to make social media a primary campaign component. Today, President Obama has official profiles on more than 16 different social networking sites including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – all of which are active.  His website also includes tools to join a local group, organize an event and fundraise.

The web has expanded politician’s reach dramatically.  This past month, more than 1.3 million viewers watched the President’s most recent State of the Union address from their computer screens or mobile devices on sites like YouTube, Hulu, Ustream, Facebook and CNN. The White House even released its own iPhone app that provided a live stream of the coverage.

Following the masses, many politicians are making social sites their preferred method of public communication.  For proof, look no further than former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman, who used his Facebook profile to announce that he would not be participating in the upcoming race for Minnesota governor. Using Facebook gave him direct control over the venue and the message while avoiding tedious media inquiries and misinterpretations. This type of authenticity is increasingly important in an environment notorious for fence straddling, side swapping and general ambiguity.  When asked why he chose the medium of Facebook, Coleman replied simply, “Because it’s 2010.”  Expect his actions to be the beginning of a new political norm.

Though not all politicians are as forward-thinking as Coleman, a large portion of Congressional members and groups are active social media producers and consumers., which tracks Twitter activity of Congressional members, lists more than 200 active members and groups. Some of the most popular include Arizona Senator John McCain, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

Republicans may currently be in the minority, but recent research indicates that they are the definite majority in the social media world. In his white paper “Twongress – The Power of Twitter in Congress”, Mark Senak determines that nearly half of the Republican caucus is on Twitter and that GOP members tweet more often and have more followers than their Democrat counterparts. Similar trends exist for YouTube, Facebook and other sites as well. Senator Scott Brown, who on January 19th became the first Republican elected to a Massachusetts senatorial seat since 1972, had five times more Facebook fans and three times more Twitter followers than his opponent Martha Coakley. This is certainly not the sole reason for his surprise victory, but the presence of an active social following must be given significant weight in the overall picture.

6a00d83451bf5969e20120a7cfcf60970b-800wiWhile the web has the potential to provide a level playing field for all parties and participants, recent research indicates that, just as in the offline world, there is a strong correlation between online political activity levels and household income. The study also found that active social media members are commonly the most active members in the political world as well. These indicators may explain some of the current skew toward rightward political participation, but the reality is that the Internet has altered longstanding patterns previously defined entirely by socio-economic factors.

The web has vaulted low-profile candidates into the spotlight and given them the ability to broadcast their platform at a level that less than a decade ago would have required several million dollars. It is exciting to watch as political figures and groups make use of social media, but merely having a presence is simply not enough. Politicians and the political world must continue to push far beyond campaigning and the occasional tweet by actively engaging with their audience. Bringing them closer and inviting them to be a part of the process is what engagement is all about. George and Abe would be proud.

Politicians on Twitter

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share


Whether it’s your local city council member or the President of the United States, Social Media is making its mark on the way our leaders communicate and connect with us. We found this very interesting: Of those politicians that are actively involved with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, many are using it to not only fund raise for their campaigns, but to inform their constituents with real-time updates from the Congressional floors… as well as from their home towns. Pretty amazing considering how private our politicians have been traditionally in discussing the wheeling and dealing from inside the “beltway”. Fanscape came up with a list of politicians we think are worth checking out on Twitter.

  • President Barack Obama – @BarackObama – second only to @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) in followers, our President and his staff are constantly keeping his followers informed
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) –  @SenJohnMcCain – tip toed into social media during the ’08 elections, but now a very active tweeter, posting about his comings and goings to his political objections
  • Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) –  @russfeingold – Sen. Feingold does something similar to what we do @Fanscape, identifies the Tweeter so you know its either him or his staff that is making the post. Love the transparency Senator!
  • Gavin Newsom (Mayor, San Francisco) –  @GavinNewsom – tweets about everything from the “green police” Audi commercial to requesting questions for his weekly YouTube update
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) –  @clairecmc – paints a more human picture of life as a US Senator
  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) – his staff loves to TwitPic the Governator at various appearances.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) – this U.S. Senator doesn’t mince his partisan 140 characters
  • Iowa House Democratic Caucus (D-IA) – @iowahousedemocrat – Iowa State Democrats created a Twitter account to update the state’s constituents on what’s happening in one of our most progressive states

We’ll be updating this from time to time, so feel free to check back.

Five Things You Need To Know About Facebook

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Fanscape Sr. Manager, Social Media, Eric Fransen, is our resident expert on all things Facebook. Want to know the current promotions policy, functionality updates and other cool things to do? Eric’s your (and our) guy. Eric lays out some of the interesting things happening on one of our favorite social networking sites (have you seen the new design?).


(1) You can mention people and pages in your updates using the “@” symbol (like Twitter). You can tag people and pages in status updates just like you would on Twitter. They will be pinged, and depending on privacy settings, your posts will appear on their wall, quite similar to tagged photos.

(2) You can search all public updates to find people talking about what interests you (like Twitter). The beauty of Twitter is the ability to see what people are talking about on a massive scale. Facebook has taken a step in this direction by allowing updates to be public and letting users search them. You can also search within only your friends’ updates.

FB and AIM

(3) Facebook can connect with AOL Instant Messenger. With the latest version of AIM, you can instant message your Facebook friends right from your buddy list. To get started, just click the Facebook Connect button at the top of the AIM beta buddy list and log in.

(4) You can run promotions, but only if Facebook says it’s ok. This is a relatively recent policy addition, where all promotions (give aways, contests, etc) need to be approved by Facebook in advance and they must be administered by a third-party app. They also cannot explicitly require social interaction to enter (become a fan, “like” a post, post a comment, etc.).

(5) The world can see when you’ve become a fan of a page (so choose wisely). With the new privacy settings, your name, profile picture and fan pages are publicly viewable by anyone. Something you should consider when becoming a fan of that really trashy TV show. 

These are a few of the many aspects of Facebook you may not be aware of.  Facebook is constantly evolving, as we’ve been seeing a lot of lately – with the home page re-designs and functionality updates.  Eric will keep us all updated,  but if you have any questions, just give us a shout!

Super Bowl Commercials

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

To this day I still think the funniest Super Bowl commercial is the dancing monkey from E*Trade – more so because of the very end with the (paraphrased) statement we just wasted 2 million dollars, what are you doing with your money? You may not agree, but I digress.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a commercial that will run during the 3rd quarter of #SB44 (don’t forget your official SB 44 has tag y’all!), that was produce by our client, Kia Motors. You can check it out before #SB44 right here:

But I digress again.

Fanscape’s Larry Weintraub wrote another interesting piece for his blog. This post is about Super Bowl Commercials and how the campaigns  are created and executed from different perspectives – on the telecast front, banned front and social media approach. Check it out.


I did some research on Super Bowl ads today. Every year I look forward to the ads and thanks to social media, you can find a lot of the ads (or parts of the ads) online in advance of the big game. The cost of an ad in this year’s Super Bowl is between $2.5 – $2.7 Million per 30 second spot. The reason an ad costs so much is mostly because of the size of the audience watching the Super Bowl but also because the ads themselves get extended shelf life because news programs feature the “top ads” and Internet websites carry the ads.

This year I’ve also found several categories that correspond with the ads such as UGC, Facebook components, and Stunts – i.e. “banned” commercials.  I’ve listed this all below with some commentary.

Superbowl Ads via Facebook

Budweiser made it so if you became a fan of their Facebook page, you could vote on what commercial got picked to run during the Superbowl.

Coke took a very active Social Media approach to their Super Bowl ads in response to Pepsi pulling their Super Bowl ads in favor of digital marketing.  Coke took the social part literal and geared some extensive social media marketing around their Super Bowl ads towards social cause.  Per an article I read:  “Coke plans to give up to $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and will raise half of that money through a campaign tied to the company’s Facebook page. As of Wednesday, Coke started offering branded virtual gifts that Facebook users can send to their friends for free. For each gift sent, Coke will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Club.”

Click HERE to read more from Larry’s Blog.

Happy Viewing!