I recently started working with an out-of-the-box-thinking mayoral campaign in DC. The candidate, Andy Shallal, is a successful restaurateur in the District, as well as a leading community organizer for progressive causes (living wage, locally sourced small businesses, etc.). He is a straight-shooting activist for the things he believes in, ready to speak his mind on the issues of the day. In other words, this campaign is not "politics as usual."
In a city that has come to be known for its corruption at City Hall, an outside-the-box candidate like Shallal offers a fresh approach to governing... and a fresh approach to campaigning. And so the Andy4DC campaign embraces social media in the manner it was meant to be embraced. Social media will be fully integrated into all aspect of the campaign. But what does that mean?
But simply using social media channels is not the same thing as integrating social media into the campaign. Social media is about creating a community-wide conversation about the city, its issues, and the candidates among the people of the community. To this end, the Andy4DC campaign is listening to the community; it is using social media and a social media-enhanced campaign website to ask the people of DC for their vision for the city. As the campaign is introducing its candidate to the people of DC, it is inviting the people of DC to introduce themselves to the candidate.
Politicians living inside the box can't let themselves get distracted by listening to the people (really listening, not just saying they are listening). To do that opens them up to distraction from their scripted campaign. To get outside the box, a candidate must provide opportunities for the people to talk with the candidate and the candidate must be committed to listening. This means the candidate must leave the script at the door.
For me, this is an exciting opportunity. I hope to push the limits and create a truly social political campaign. Stay tuned.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.