Sunday, August 16, 2009

Right Online: Saturday Afternoon

Two sessions remained in the afternoon, and both dealt with reaching out to youth. One highly telling statistic is that 67% of the youth vote went to Obama in the recent election. This is troubling. Obama’s use of social media to drum up support was masterful, and it is possible for us Republicans to learn some lessons from this.

A variety of speakers addressed us. We were reminded us that engagement is critical with youth. Young people under 30 are different from previous generations, and not only because they seem to like the social media and the cell phone. The group born between 1981 and 1994 are the largest generation in American history. 52% of this demographic voted in the 2008 elections; this percentage has grown every two years. 70% of young voters have gone to college; on average, they graduate with $20,000 in debt (and therefore, have reason to be concerned with the economy). Only 28% of them self-identify as Republicans, although this group is usually “die-hard.” A majority see the economy as the most important issue right now; Iraq was second with only 12%.

Today’s youth like to travel in groups, whether to the movies, on dates, or to the mall. Mobile technology is the primary means of communication; the average teen reportedly sends 3000 text messages per month. They care what their friends think. They operate by cooperation and strive for life/work balance. This group almost without exception is on social networks, but only 22% of them use Twitter. Most find e-mail antiquated and don’t trust political campaign ads. They value change, and tend to be a bit “ADHD.” They tend to focus on participation more than information.

The premise going forward, then, is that we must be able to meet youth where they are. To that end, websites like (full rollout coming soon),,, and have been developed. We need to find out what they value. We should not hesitate from using emotional appeal with them; they are idealistic, and it tends to work [Note from Ken: Yes, those of you over 35 can see problems with this; but we’re dealing with political persuasion, not core moral issues, etc.].

And finally, a topic came up that I really, really wanted to hear about: How to drive traffic to your blog. Some of the suggestions that were given included:
1. Use twitter. Make connections with lots of other people; send your blog postings via twitter. (Note: In case you haven’t noticed yet, Twitter was a huge topic throughout this conference. Opinions on its efficacy varied, but most contributors found it to be invaluable)
2. Link to other blogs. Links are often reciprocated. Link to specific posts in addition to the overall blog; these are often more track-able.
3. Post comments on other blogs, and make sure your blog can be linked from the comment.
4. Do all of these things often.

My scheduled flight prevented me from going to the final session without running too high a risk of missing my flight out of town. Many, many thanks to RightOnline, a project of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation; and to, for having the Bloggers’ Challenge contest last June!


steve said...

I found a video you might be interested in....

Ken said...

Thanks, Steve! That was an excellent excerpt of Malkin's speech.

theCL said...

"They value change, and tend to be a bit “ADHD.” They tend to focus on participation more than information."

I started laughing at the ADHD, after all, I'm the ADHD poster boy! Funny thing is though, I tend to lean more on information than on participation. See ... there's always something to learn from the young.

Linking to other blogs is fantastic! A month or so ago, I was trying to get Michigan bloggers to link to each other more often ... I'll get back to work on that this week!

Also, I know today's conservatives misunderstand him, but if you want to know what excites the young, study Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty. He's very strong with the young!

In my travels, I find younger folks are very open to old school conservative ideas, like America First foreign policy, federalism, and other similar anti-state initiatives.

The past few generations have done nothing but grow the state. Young people, by their very nature, look for a new direction. I don't know how many realize it, but they'd fit right in with a Robert A. Taft or Barry Goldwater.

Peter Matesevac said...

The Republicans are also largely ineffective at selecting, and possibly trusting, younger candidates and leaders like the Dems have. It's hard to get 18-34's to vote for a man in his 70's who admits to being tech-ignorant.