Guest post by Sam Peters
The mainstream media and traditional news sources have always had a contentious stance when it comes to reporting on political campaigns. While it is their job to report contrarian points of view, during campaign season it can seem like a series of exploitations and finger-pointing instead of real political discourse.
Recently Google+ has released their version of brand pages in order to get more people interested in the social network. With the release of these pages has come the categorization of certain groups such as sports teams, universities, media organizations, and now a guide for politicians. This makes it easier for those seeking office to control messages and get their facts straight to the public without gatekeepers.
Gaffes are one of the best parts of any political campaign, for those watching at home. When a politician flip-flops on a position or says something out of context that the public is not supposed to hear, the news media jumps all over it and smears candidates. This makes reputation management a logistical nightmare and forces campaigns to hire countless PR professionals. With Google+ Circles, a candidate can tailor messages to different groups and constituents in order to privately communicate ideas to different audiences with discretion.
Political endorsements are a sticky subject when running for higher office. You are constantly vetted and compared to the other candidates with an unparalleled level of scrutiny. One wrong move can set a campaign back past the point of return. With the +1 feature, politicians can select a whole array of features and endorsements that will not get as much scrutiny for being online.
The +1 feature is also a perfect way to highlight positive media buzz, interesting blog posts, and user created content that highlights a politician’s campaign. Instead of seeing potentially harmful news, those who get their updates through Google+ can keep a steady filter.
YouTube Video and Media Integration
Let’s face it, YouTube is not the greatest place to disclose relevant campaign videos. You are competing with a major entertainment force that sees more people viewing cute pandas sneezing than messages from business leaders and politicians. YouTube is a subsidiary of Google and the integration of the two products will allow greater targeted messages with Google+ and the power of the world’s largest video sharing service.
Real-Time Town Halls
The series of Republican debates occurring in the United States is setting a major precedence for the way people converse with politicians. No longer do we hold our voices, ask poignant questions, and reserve respect for these leaders. The trend now is to shout out any phrase that comes to mind in order to get a reaction.
With the unique video conferencing feature Google+ provides, these town hall meetings can fall on the backburner and take place online where a lot of this behaviour is not only acceptable, but often encouraged.
While Google+ is trying to make it easier for politicians to control their campaign messages, they have to use extreme caution when taking to social media. Anyone can comment on anything and nothing receives a real sense of privacy.
Just like politicians try to sweep certain issues under the rug when campaign season rolls around, they will try to sweep their social media presence under as well. In order to keep their campaigns running without major public outcry, they will need to keep pristine digital lives which Google+ can help provide.