January 12 2009 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Government Year: 2009 Rating: 5 Hot
Spurred in large part by Barack Obama's unprecedented and extraordinarily successful new media campaign, other national politicians are quickly following suit by embracing YouTube's new dedicated channels for U.S. Senators and House Representatives.
Here's the official word from the YouTube blog:
As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub (youtube.com/senatehub) and The House Hub (youtube.com/househub).
Though this may not seem like something altogether world-changing considering the explosive use of YouTube, even among politicians, this transition to web content is a rather big deal for several reasons:
1. Selection of the Savvy: Just as the transition to television helped bring telegenic communicators like Kennedy to power, the transition to web video and social media will negatively impact those politicians that are slow to understand, adopt and maximize the use of new technologies. Suvival of the fittest politician will now require new media aptitude and staff atmposphere.
2. More Powerful Communities: National politicians have already figured out how to take advantage of fleets of interns (last time I visited The Hill on a video shoot Blackburn seemed to have 20+ interns at his disposal) that will work for reputation. Now imagine how that will scale online. Candidates who figure out how to build large communities of powerful supporters, idea generators and viral content drivers will have a big edge in campaigns and also in the governing process. Those that can grow the largest, most effective team (we're talking thousands of hard core supporters and interns) will first win the media wars and then the overall effectiveness wars.
3. More Accountability: As politicians bring their messages online, they will soon find that they will become more accountable to all of the comment threads and responses to their content. These responses and suggestions will become part of the public record and will be increasingly searchable. Similarly, the increasing volume of content created by politicians will serve to establish opinion track records that will quickly be assembled thanks to forthcoming speech-to-text translation tools.
4. Accelerating Government: Just as the web info marketplace rewards the first to report certain information, politicians will now be incented to most quickly break and spin news so they can spread their videos to their constituents most effectively. Every staff will now include a viral marketing / online community manager who will be looking to rock these marketing, branding and PR opportunities. Thus, campaigns who take early positions on critical issues will reap the benefits... or pay the price if they make bad choices on the record.
5. New Media Coalitions: The new Hearsts, gatekeepers to government posts, will be online media magnates that lead or influence huge communities of prosumers. Politicians are already getting chummy with the likes of Google, YouTube, Facebook, Second Life, etc, but expect such relationships and partnerships to become more important and prominent in the near-future. Simultaneously, it'll be interesting to see how such relationships transform the way that our government views new media, the web and technology.
Bonus - The International Effect: Though politicians will of course target the constituents that can get them elected, there's no reason to assume they won't go out of state or out of nation in theor search for the prosumers that can help them get the job done. A candidate that takes a certain stance on Israel/Hamas, for example, may enjoy a huge burst of media support from either Israelis or Palestinians. This will open up a new style of international campaigning and a Pandora's Box of other issues.
Any other big implications you can think of?