Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Targeted Social Marketing in Politics

Michelle Bachman’s campaign has a new social marketing strategy.  They created software so that people could put “Bachman for President” lawn signs into their virtual worlds like Farmville.  This seems pretty clever, but it fot me thinking.

It is a common practice now (since Obama in 2008) to use targeted Facebook advertising to find supporters.  They target demographic/psychographic combinations most likely to support their candidate and place ads on their FB page asking them to join the fan page, make a donation, etc.  So for example, Obama might target young people who have ‘liberal’ or ‘democrat’ in their profiles and/or are part of left wing-ish groups.
Perry might look for ‘conservative,’ ‘tea party” southern state residents.  I am sure the campaigns have a lot of research on exactly who to target.  These are much more cost effective than paying for a TV commercial that goes out to everyone.

But this opens up a potential can of worms.  I am not sure the campaigns are doing this, but they could.  What if a candidate knows that Social Security needs to be reformed but is afraid of alienating older voters?  He/she can send an ad saying that he supports reform to the younger demographics and a different ad saying that he supports current benefits to older demographics.  You can’t do this on TV, but on the targeted Internet . . . .

If they limited it to text ads, it wouldn’t make for a very salient investigative news story, so they would probably be safe from exposure except from groups that wouldn’t vote for them anyway.

Think any of them would do this?  Is it ethical?  What other creative strategies does the Internet open up?

The Skills Olympics

I read that there is a competition called the Skills Olympics where they have events like welding, bricklaying, and other kinds of skills.  Notice these are skills – they aren’t purely physical like weightlifting and they aren’t purely knowledge based like doing crossword puzzles.  People compete in each event for medals like with the sports Olympics.

But I was thinking, imagine the incredible person who could win a skills decathalon (I don’t think they actually have one).  Imagine who could possibly be good at (these were listed in the article as events):
  • Bricklaying
  • Sock darning
  • Pastry baking
  • Massage
  • Clothing retail merchandising
  • Welding
  • And then four more. 
 What kind of person did you imagine?  Who would be good at so many different kinds of skills?  What would their background be?  What would it take to get good as such diversity?

A different kind of mobile innovation

I love paradigm-changing innovation (even if that is one of those buzzwords we are not supposed to use anymore).  

There is a new company called PlanetTran that just started in Boston and San Francisco.  The idea is to bring taxi service into the 21st century.  Their services include
  • Tweetaride: Tweet them a time and place in 140 characters and a taxi will meet you there.
  • Calendar synch and GPS: if you are running late, the company can tell from your GPS location and adjust the time the taxi arrives accordingly.
  • Ride-sharing: if you sign up for this option, when two people are starting and ending in approximately the same locations it will link them together to share a ride and split the cost.
  • Wi-Fi in all taxis
 And as you would expect, the taxi lobby is up in arms.  They don’t want this kind of competition.  They are trying to get the company banned on technicalities regarding livery licenses.