Interspersed with all of the political wrangling, spliced among all of the media rantings, mixed-up in all of the admonishment of politicians by the citizenry was one of the best political uses of social media yet, the #40dollars campaign. For the less-social media savvy among our readers, this campaign was an effort by The White House to encourage people to Tweet about what an extra $40 means to them. The White House believed that this would help to drive its message and spur action by House Republicans. In addition, and showing a solid understanding of not just the medium, but its capabilities, the White House re-Tweeted some of the more compelling 140 character stories proponents of extending benefits shared.
The strategy wasn't entirely successful as Republicans hijacked the hashtag at times to make their own points (albeit somewhat clumsily...see Speaker Boehner's feed for examples). However despite taking a risk that it couldn't control its message entirely, this seemed to be an overwhelmingly successful campaign by The White House as many people chimed in showing support for its position.
The e-campaign trail doesn't result in as many awkward photos as the real campaign trail. Luckily for us, e-campaigning didn't factor as heavily during the two previous election cycles...
We have written extensively about e-campaigning in the past. Though the use of social media has seemingly derailed as many political careers as it has jump-started (see Weiner, Anthony and Larsen-Gate) sometimes pols are successful when employing e-strategies. While the #40dollars campaign was an end in and of itself, it also strikes us that it was an important step in the campaign development strategy for Team Obama. If this is true, Republican candidates should make sure they have excellent teams of social media experts at the ready. It is becoming clearer that social media will be as crucial a stop on the campaign trail as Iowa or New Hampshire as Campaign 2012 picks up steam.