When Social Media “Money Bombs” Distract
During the 2010 midterm elections, the mainstream media focused an inordinate amount of coverage on Tea Party candidates throughout the nation. Most of the stories focused on their fundraising prowess and ability to reach a national audience. For instance, Christine O'Donnell shocked the GOP establishment when she won the Delaware U.S Senate Republican primary over Representative Mike Castle. However, as the general election against Chris Coons heated up, Ms. O'Donnell appeared more on the national TV circuit than she did in her local paper.
The 2010 election cycle demonstrated that down-ticket candidates must approach national fundraising efforts carefully. If candidates want to reach their full fundraising potential, they have to reach out to national supporters through social media as well as websites like ActBlue.com or SlateCard.com. Small online donations can trickle in with $5 here and $10 there, but it also creates a dilemma for politicians: How can you maintain your local roots and not alienate your voting base, while also getting more financial support? For instance, former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL8) made national headlines during his time in office, but it also left him vulnerable in his moderate Florida district.
Beth Becker, of PST Progressive, argues that the social media rule is “80/20.” On Twitter, 80% of your followers are national while 20% are local. On Facebook that trend is reversed, with 80% of your fans being local and 20% being national. That means different messages have to be crafted for different constituencies.
The media coverage surrounding the 2010 cycle might prove to be an anomaly as the down-ticket races will soon have to contend with the coverage given to the presidential race in 2012. In order to get national attention in 2012, a candidate might need to go even further outside the box. That being said, a candidate also does not want to get national exposure for the wrong reasons.
A recent ABCnews article explored how Congressman Ron Paul uses social media for his "money bomb" fundraising efforts,
"Paul has snagged millions in Internet donations with his 'money bomb' technique, a short burst of fundraising spanning about a day that is heavily advertised on social media."
A "money bomb" at the local level could be a high-yield effort with little money spent, especially if the candidate used proper social media ad targeting. However, it is important for local candidates to not get swallowed whole by the opportunities to get national recognition. There are bound to be more examples of politicians that will join the ranks of what-could-have-been when they forget what gets them elected: Votes.