Image via CrunchBase
I may be an old codger, but I use FaceBook and YouTube regularly. Facebook to network with current and former colleagues and friends, and to place links to anything interesting to read on the Web, including my own stuff (of course). YouTube to watch trends, to get blog posting ideas and to send my mother in Florida (who’s thinking of buying a Shih Tzu) daily links to funny Shih Tzu videos, to convince her to get out there and buy one, for goodness sake! So it’s clear even to an old codger like me what kind of impact FaceBook and YouTube are having on the presidential campaign. I would even wager to guess that any candidate who’s plugged in has a much better chance of winning, and — can I go out on a limb here? — that Web presence could make all the difference on Nov. 4th. Just look at the statistics. The Obama/Biden camp have a YouTube channel that contains more than 1,500 short and longer videos, including one called “Four Days in Denver,” that follows the Obama family through the process of rehearsing and preparing for the Democratic National Convention. The Obama/Biden “channel” on YouTube has been viewed more than 70 million times and has 99,106 subscribers as of this writing. Obama’s 13-minute Keating Savings and Loan scandal video, meant to raise questions about McCain’s involvement, is no longer the centerpiece of the YouTube page, though it once was. It’s been viewed 1.4 million times. It’s been replaced by a highlights film from the campaign with an inspiring music track (see below). The McCain/Palin YouTube channel, in comparison, has 305 videos, has been viewed 21 million times and has 24,600 subscribers as of this writing. The now infamous Bill Ayers video is front and center on McCain’s YouTube page, with more than 500,000 views. There’s a big gap there, in terms of using YouTube, the third largest Web 2.0 website, according to eBizMBA, with more than 52 million inbound links to the site out there in Web World. There’s good reason for The New York Times dubbing McCain back in September “the analog candidate.” The candidates’ Facebook pages show much of the same. Obama’s Facebook page has more than 2 million supporters, dozens of links to state campaign offices, live videos, and links to YouTube videos. But there are also more than 500 Obama Facebook pages created by members, including “One Million Strong for Barack,” a Facebook page currently at about 786,000 members and created by a 26-year-old on the day that Obama announced he was creating a presidential campaign exploratory committee. Here’s what Andrew Sullivan of Times Online wrote about Obama’s Facebook presence back in his May article, “Barack Obama is master of new Facebook politics
There is only one real answer to Obama’s financial success: the internet. What Howard Dean, a previous candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, presaged in 2004 – when he raised $27m online for his campaign – has come to fruition only four years later with a candidate who is primed to take advantage of web power and a generation that is now used to relating, thinking, talking and meeting online.
And here’s what The Washington Post noted in a story published in June about the candidates’ use of social media:
The Web is like a busy, massive, maze-like grocery store, and Obama has been more effective than McCain in ensuring that he’s on various aisles, trying to attract specific demographic groups. Obama was the first candidate, Democratic or Republican, to have a profile on BlackPlanet.com, MiGente.com and AsianAve.com, popular social networking sites in the black, Latino and Asian communities, and was also the first to have a profile on On Eons.com, the Facebook for Baby Boomers.
McCain’s Facebook page has 569,000 members — much less of a gap than what you’ll see on his YouTube channel, and links to his campaign ads and videos. Sarah Palin also has a huge presence on the Facebook page, as you can imagine. What’s my point? Technology is a tool, and probably the most important tool there is at the moment. If you’re running for President, you ought to use it. Admittedly, the majority of John McCain’s constituents are not likely to be members of Gen Y, but some are. And my 75-year-old mother (an Obama supporter, BTW) watches videos on YouTube. It’s not wise to underestimate the power of the Web in this election. Time will tell.