With a spirited gubernatorial race just days after the Oct. 28 October Innotech, it seems only natural that a major focus on social media would be how Governor Rick Perry and Bill White are using this communication tool. Mike Chapman, a partner with Apogee Communications, is working with Bill Leake in programming the eMarketing summit for next Thursday’s Innotech. He spoke with Matt Scherer, the publicist for 2010 Innotech and an Austin Startup contributor, on the deployment of social media in the campaign.
Q. With the 2010 election coming up, what has been the biggest difference in social media strategies as compared to 2008?
Mike Chapman: There is a much wider adoption of social media, especially among conservatives, following the lopsided success by the Obama campaign in this area two years ago.
Q. We have a spirited race for governor of Texas. Who is winning the social media battle?
Chapman: I’m not sure how you determine a winner on social media because there are so many different measurements you can use. Both Rick Perry and Bill White are using a wide range of social media channels to reach out to supporters and potential supporters. Perry has a personal Twitter account that he updates, which is impressive given that he is the CEO of the State of Texas. White is very aggressive on Facebook and has a large following there. I always advise using the social media channels that you are most comfortable with and it appears that both men are doing that.
Q. Even though we have seen some success in social media strategy, some politicians and their advisors are resorting to old school tactics like yard signs and telemarketing phone calls. Will social media eventually replace those marketing tools?
Chapman: Social media can reach voters where the “old school” tactics may not. Conversely, there are those voters who don’t utilize computers, much less social media. I would never advise a candidate to voluntarily stop communicating with either group. There is, however, a consideration for cost effectiveness. Television, print, and other traditional advertising and marketing channels might be too expensive in some cases and social media can sometimes serve as a cost effective alternative.
Q. What future changes do you see for 2012?
Chapman: Wider spread adoption of social media and the beginnings of some legislative and regulatory oversight of their use will begin to be seen in 2012. I predict the Iowa Republican caucuses will see very lively social media wars and that neither Republicans or Democrats will leave any stone unturned in the general election as it relates to online communications.