There have been plenty of writings about the Obama campaign’s experiences with MySpace lately. Today I found (via TBR) a ‘straight from the heart’ comment questioning whether it is possible for Presidential campaigns to run a MySpace, or other voter-generated sites for that reason, effectively.
In an excellent post in American Princess, E. M. Zanotti writes:
The big mistake comes in thinking that a Presidential campaign can run a MySpace page effectively. Suddenly, everyones inboxes will be full of carefully crafted press statements about appropriations, floor votes, positions on tax reform, and the ever popular "referrals to the Ways and Means committees." For hipsters in tune with MySpace, its like getting a letter from your parents in your comments section telling you how adorable you are even though you're constantly on the verge of killing yourself in your effort to be as street as Jared Leto.
Even if they were to somehow garner a small fraction of the 160,000 friends Obama had before, knowing that they didn't want the MySpace generation, who they appear to be appealing to, in charge of MySpace operations, preferring a stuffed-suit campaign worker, has to be pretty disheartening to the grassroots. So much for taking initiative on the part of a grateful candidate. MySpace prides itself on the impact that its been able to have with the "youth"--enough to host online discussions about the State of the Union, a mock Presidential campaign, or even enough to be a first destination for every candidate on the ballot in the primaries--and its user-driven content has millions of viewers, at least enough to entice big-money advertisers. Its having an impact, and on both parties--the kind of impact MTV's Choose or Lose campaigns only dreamed of, and all created and managed by a handful of crazed people dying to work for free, and who would have continued working for free for Obama, had he only left them alone.
Granted, Obama is camera-shy on digital media in his name, but for any candidate were generating the kind of internet buzz and creativity as he is (at least for now), the trick is to harness that power and encourage it, not beat someone into submission--especially someone with that much access to millions of potential primary voters.
Zanotti has many great points. But it is interesting to see how fast the Obama campaign is regaining friends for the new and official site. The site has already attracted, 58,706 friends according to TechPresident’s ‘MySpace-friends’ barometer. That means that only Hilary is topping the Obama campaign so far with 63,477 MySpace friends. It will be interesting to see how fast, if at all, the Obama site can break 100,000 again.