Political Candidates Must Vote For Social Media Early and Often.

No matter what side of the left or right you sit on issues, the actions of one candidate pose a good lesson about where social media should rank in terms of political campaign clout.

Even though he’s running a distinct 3rd (or 4th if you were looking at his results here in Illinois), it’s a tad mystifying to me that Newt Gingrich has decided to pour so much of his budget into social media at this late stage of his campaign. Not that this is a bad move at all but the timing of it is unfortunate for him as it appears in his case that using social media seems like a method of last resort when campaign staffs get slashed and budgets dwindle. If so, that’s a lousy view of how to use it. If we didn’t learn anything from 2008 politics, it’s that social media has officially arrived as a standard and absolutely essential component of any campaign’s success, Republican or Democrat.

Regardless of whether you’re running for President or Alderman of Chicago’s 44th Ward, you can’t see social media as an afterthought. You have to see it as a vital investment right out of the gate to help mobilize your supporters and encourage fluid communication. Without it or without much consistent use of it, you’re pinning too much of your hopes on traditional methods. And while you still have to get out there and press the flesh of potential voters to be relevant, you can’t ignore the undecideds behind a computer screen who might be searching for clear positioning points of view of your candidate.

It just proves once again how important it is to have good planners behind the scenes who can truly make or break these “brands” with how they select media and craft the right message. It’s really not that far removed from how we strategize the success of products and services.