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  • September 2021
    M T W T F S S


So one more class and then you’re free from the oppressive burdens of my class. No special reading this week to maximize your final project time, but here are some suggestions from Amber about tips she found:

1) Search: Do not rely on solely on the first 10 results on Google (I’ve found some really relevant information on the 10th+ pages of search, which probably means I need to do better with key words.)

2) Finding top bloggers in a state: Find at least one or two top bloggers and ask them for a list of the other top bloggers. (You can always click through their blog roll, but some of them might have extensive blog rolls.)

3) How a state is using social media: This was a bit time-consuming, but I visited (most of) the official websites of the counties within the state of Virginia to see if the counties were using social media at all. (I’m still a bit stuck on the “metrics” part because the social media thing is still so new.)

4) Widgets: My latest blog post talks a bit about widgets and provides websites where you can create your own (and play with them etc…), if you decide you want to do something on widgets for the final project.

Anyone else have ideas/tips? Leave them in the comments.

Almost There!

I’m not going to assign any additional reading this week because you’ve got your final projects. The important thing is to let me know which you’re choosing instead of a quiz: three additional blog entries on politics/tech or ten additional points on your final project (making it 40 percent of your final grade). Email me by Monday and, if you’re choosing more blogging, I’d suggest getting on top of that ASAP.

Blog about anything of interest, tech-wise this week.

Microtargeting: You

So there’s not that much additional reading this week because I want to give you some time to work on the project.

As a tip for a project, check out e.politics’ guide to online campaigning as well as EchoDitto’s “Insights” page, where you should pay particular attention to the staffing guide and the budget matrix.

Also: Here are links to the AU Online Video Fair Use policy that I mentioned in class.

Reading-wise, tackle Applebee’s America and then flip through some of these datamining and microtargeting resources. And don’t overlook my article on datamining and microtargeting in the current issue of Wired. Feel free to write on any subject but if you’re stuck try this: How well do you feel you fit the stereotypes of your party ID? Could you be microtargeted (or macrotargeted)?

Your Final Project

Here’s your mission if you choose to accept it—and I hope you will because your final grade depends upon.

Answer the following scenario: You have been hired to design a social media and online strategy for a general election candidate for the U.S. Senate of the party and in the state of your choosing.   This candidate may actually exist in real life or may be fictional.  If the candidate you choose to strategize for is fictional, you will have to choose two or three issues (i.e. education, energy, immigration) that you think will play a role in the election and the candidacy in order to do a successful survey of the state’s social media landscape. You have an unlimited budget but you must justify your choices, staffing, and strategy based upon the readings, case studies, examples, and websites we have examined thus far in class.

Your strategy must include no fewer than five different “Web 2.0″ platforms, including but not limited to social networking, blogging, gaming, Google ad campaigns, podcasts, vlogs, online viral videos, wikis, Wikipedia, and anything else you’ve stumbled across that interests you.

The ideas need not be budget-constrained (i.e. even though games or Facebook widgets can be incredibly expensive to build, you may include them). For each idea, you must outline and include the following characteristics: (1) the tool’s purpose; (2) the intended audience; (3) the social component; and (4) how it fits into your larger strategy.

For instance, if you’re building a game, who would you want to play the game, what would the game play be like, and what’s the game’s intended message? If you’re building a Facebook widget, what would it do, what’s the social component that would make people put it onto their Facebook pages, and how does it advance the your workplace or cause, and/or educate people as to your position? If you’re building a Google Adwords campaign, who would you hope to draw into your website, what search terms would the campaign be built around, and what’s the hook/language you’d use to get people to click on your ad?

You must also justify your choices—for instance, why would a social networking site make sense for your intended candidate? Why would you choose a video podcast instead of an audio podcast? Why would you choose Vimeo as your videosharing site instead of YouTube? Why create a wiki instead of a blog?

If you’re using something like a blog, you must think about and answer these questions along these lines: Who will write on it? What’s the voice? How often are you looking to post? Would you include comments? Why or why not?  Will the blog require extra staff? What’s your goal for the blog?

All of these justifications and arguments and choices are your opportunity to demonstrate to me what you have picked up out of this class. You must cite readings, statistics, and case studies from class to get a top grade. There’s a big difference between not being budget-constrained and making smart choices. We’ve certainly looked at many examples in class of candidates who haven’t done social media well—and how that is more dangerous than not doing it at all. This memo is your chance to think through all of these concerns and trade-offs and make smart choices that demonstrate your understanding of how social media works in today’s campaign world.

You must also include a survey of the existing Web 2.0 landscape for your  chosen state and candidate. This will count as the field report project from the syllabus. In it you must answer the following questions at a minimum: Who are your opponents in the race (both the candidates and the state parties)? Your online friends/allies/potential partners (Is there a union that has a real strong blog/website in your chosen state?)? What are the leading authorities on your chosen issues online (both locally and nationally)? What lessons can you draw into your own projects from the successes or failures of allies/competitors?  What are the top blogs in your state both progressive and conservative? Who are those bloggers, what are they interested in, how could your candidate appeal to them?

For the competitive surveys, I’m going to be looking for at least 15 social media sites spread across at least three of the four following areas: Blogs/Microblogging, Wikis, Social Networking (including both sites and groups), and general social media (Vlogs/Podcasts/Citizen Journalism/Audio/Video). If you have picked a subject that doesn’t get you 15 sites in three areas, you need to change your definition or pick a new topic.

Write up a brief description of each site, classify it, the URL, any traffic details or size numbers you can track down, as well as some analysis of the level of engagement.  Give specifics—don’t just tell me that Facebook or MySpace are the most popular social networking sites on the Internet, figure out how much activity there is in the profiles you were examining, your groups, or fan pages. Remember the concept of the long tail! Don’t forget some of the resources we’ve used like TruthLaidBear and Quantcast. Here’s an example entry for a Facebook group that I belong to that would be useful if I was planning a strategy for Vermont:

Site: Vermont State Society Facebook Group
URL: http://harvard.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8156815255
Type: Social Networking Site
Traffic:  22 members in group; Facebook ranks 15th on the web according to Quantcast
Description: This largely inactive group supports Vermonters in Washington and members post job listings and news stories of interest to it. It is an open group which anyone can join with a single administrator. No one other than the administrator has posted to it.

If I was writing about Vermont, I would also want to see what the major media outlets in Vermont were doing online—do they have blogs or online videos that I would want my candidate to participate in? I would also want to make sure to note that Democracy for America is based in Vermont and has a strong online presence. Beyond that I would want to note who the existing senators are and how they’ve engaged in social media, ditto for the governor, House Speaker, and any other major statewide officers.

Your plan, complete with competitive survey, should be written in the form of a memo to the campaign manager (in this case, me), outlining your argument for engaging in social media at all, each tool you’ve chosen and why you’ve chosen it, the potential applications, and your goals for growth. Are you planning to use this as a communication tool, a fundraising tool, or a field/get-out-the-vote tool? Why?

While there is no set page length, I would be very surprised if you could accomplish all of the above in fewer than eight pages with normal spacing and font sizes.

Your final project plan must be ready for class on July 28th.

As the syllabus says, your final project is worth thirty points (the 20 points of the project plus 10 of the social media report), i.e. thirty percent of your final grade. The grading will be divided into the following:

Competitive Survey: This section will be worth ten points (or two points for each three sites you survey). I will look at the applicability of those sites to your larger project as well as the research you’ve done to examine who your competitors/allies are in this particular field.

Project Outline: Twenty points; ten points of the grade will examine your overall thinking and justification, your citations and case studies, statistics, and arguments for engaging in social media. The other ten points of the grade will focus on the specific tools you’ve chosen, how you’ve justified them, how you’ve thought through the challenges (i.e. staffing, comments, etc.) and how they fit into the larger strategy. You will the be graded on how realistically your plan is outlined, how fully you demonstrate comprehension of the Web 2.0 landscape and its various tools, and how clearly you establish your goals and objectives. I want to specifically emphasize the first and third criteria, because those can get lost in the rush of fun tools.

Any project plans not turned in on July 28th will be docked five points (half-a-letter grade on your overall course grade). Any project plans turned in by August 1st will be docked ten points (one letter grade on your overall course grade). Projects will not be accepted after August 1st and, if you have not turned in your project by Friday the 1st, you will not be able to pass the class. This is a real world scenario and, in actual campaign life, late pitches aren’t accepted.

Please email me if you have questions. We will also discuss this more in class. Make sure to put some good thought into how you approach this. This is your chance to really wow me with how much you’ve learned.


Next week’s distinguished guest will be James Kotecki, he of EmergencyCheese YouTube fame. Here’s a little interview I did with James last year, before he joined Politico. He IS new media.

Your blog assignment for the week: Was Kotecki, prior to joining Politico, a journalist? What’s the difference between what he was doing in his dorm room and what Chris Matthews does on Hardball? Is there one?

Stay tuned to this blog later this week for more information on the final project.

Fundraising and PDF

Sorry this is a little later than normal posting-wise; I spent last evening gathering lots of stuff for you to read from the Personal Democracy Forum in New York earlier this week. It’s quite timely and interesting.

It was fascinating to follow along with the conference on Summize and Twemes, both of whose #pdf2008 feeds are worth checking out. Both sites let you tag a particular Twitter post with a hashtag that gets aggregated on those sites so you don’t have to be following each person at a conference individually.

The big news was the exchange over McCain and computing. Here’s the whole exchange on “the YouTube.” Check out a few of the CNN iReports with Mindy Finn, Mark Soohoo, Craig Newmark, Larry Lessig, Zephyr Teachout, Jeff Jarvis, Vint Cerf, Josh Marshall, and Jay Rosen.

Please read through TechPresident’s coverage of the conference so we can discuss a chunk of it on Monday. Lastly, if you want to dig through the whole mess of PDF coverage, dive into the blogs!

You’ll be getting blog comments/check-in emails from me this week. Don’t forget that for the first class in July, all blog entries up until that point are due. After the July 7th class, I won’t accept any blog entries from prior to that point. We’ll go over in class on Monday what you’re supposed to have and also start talking about the final project.

Voter-Generated Content

So this next week will be about voter-generated content. I think it should be a fun class. You may remember the term from my book; Andrew Rasiej coined it and it’s really changing this election. Check out this piece I did for the Huffington Post earlier this year.

One other example worth checking out is the 10Questions experiment, as well as the john.he.is video and the LOLcats site mentioned here. One other creative example: Want to know who the various superdelegates are? Use the superdelegates.org wiki.

Your blog challenge for the week: Find four examples of voter-generated content online and blog about what they mean. The only rule: They can’t all come from the same site. For instance, you can only use one YouTube video or only use one t-shirt from Zazzle. And none of them can be the will.i.am video. Everyone has seen that one.

We’ll go over everyone’s choices in class. Where to start? Well dig around on Facebook, MySpace, Zazzle, and the sites that I keep telling you to read: e.politics, TechPresident, and the like. This is going to force you to explore some and work at finding examples. There’s a ton out there. I want you to go find it.

Blogging and the Press

I hope you enjoyed our rapid tour of the new political reporting and news landscape last night. I’m not going to assign much in the way of web reading this week because (a) it’s a short week, and (b) you have your blog writing assignment for Friday. If you are going to miss class on Friday, make sure to email me beforehand.

Here’s the link to my class del.icio.us feed (different from the del.icio.us feed where you post). This’ll include all of the sites I cover each week in class.

For Friday’s class, we’re going to be covering my book, which I hope will serve, along with the Last Campaign and Boys on the Bus, as your foundation for exploring the rest of the semester and the transformations that have campaigning over the last half century (or so). A few additional things to read and peruse: The YouTube video of my talk at Google earlier this year about the book and two op-eds I did last fall for Politico and the Washington Post.

See you Friday, same time, same place.

First Class Details

I think this is going to be an exciting semester—thanks for coming along for the ride. I’m excited about this new class and the opportunities to explore this topic in such depth.

A few assorted notes:

* Don’t worry about buying and setting up a domain name. That’s text I meant to take out of the syllabus.

* Please friend me on Facebook before our next class—if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’ll have to set one up. We’ll be looking at campaign activity on that site over the coming weeks so you’ll need to be able to explore it.

* Make sure to email me the address of the blog that you set up. I’ll want to start following along and add you to the class blogroll to the right. Also if there’s an email other than your Georgetown email that you’d like me to use, tell me that sooner rather than later.

* Thank you to everyone who voted—the voting wasn’t all that close so our random make-up class will be held Friday, June 13th. That means that, after not meeting for the next two weeks, we’ll catch up on schedule very quickly with three classes in eight days. I understand that a couple of you expressed concern that a Friday meeting conflicts with the Jewish Sabbath and I understand that and so will tape the class as a podcast for you to listen to over the weekend. It will not count towards your two absences as long as you email me ahead of time.

* To accomodate the schedule of our first guest speaker, Michael Silberman, I’m going to switch the Week 4 and Week 5 class topics. We’ll cover grassroots organizing on the 16th and voter-generated content on the 23rd.

Thus all that means there’s a lot of reading to complete by Monday, June 16th. You’ll need to read The Last Campaign, Boys on the Bus, The First Campaign, and Mousepads, Shoeleather, and Hope all by Monday the 16th. Please make sure to space this out over the next three weeks so you can get it done.

The plus side, of course, is that the reading drops off very quickly after that—there are only two other books the last six weeks of class. Sorry for the front leading, but as I said in class, there’s no way to do this other than complete immersion.

So just to clarify what you owe me for our next class meeting June 9th: one blog entry, a couple of del.icio.us links, The Boys on the Bus, and The Last Campaign. For that first blog entry, focus on what differences you see from the press coverage of the 1948 campaign and the 1972 campaign: What’s different about the way the press approach the campaign? What’s different about the way the candidates approach the campaign? We’ll spend that class going over campaign coverage in the traditional media and blogging, looking at what makes a good blog, and then you’ll have another entry and round of del.icio.us links due that week on my book, The First Campaign.

[Logistic note: Normally I’ll have this blog post up on Tuesdays rather than Thursdays, but I waited until people had a chance to vote on our make-up class.]

Please email me if you have any questions or outstanding concerns.

Hello Class!

Welcome to Georgetown’s Summer 2008 digital campaigning class, MPPR 855. Stay tuned here for lots more information over the course of the semester.