Friday, August 14, 2009

Right Online: Winning in a Web 2.0 World

Our first session was a panel composed of Emily Zinotti, of the Sam Adams Alliance; Adam Bitely, from Americans for Limited Government; and John Hawkins, of (and various other sites). Each began with a statement where they made some important points:

Emily: We need to learn the new media tools for political change. The Right has leaped forward in the past year on the internet and new media, partly in response to President Obama and the Left’s progress in the past few years.

Adam: He has identified over 90,000 conservative blogs. There has been a huge uptick in conservative blogging in the past couple years.

John: (It should be pointed out that John was definitely the talker of the three…but he had good things to say) The early adopters generally take the lead. Those who have been on twitter the longest generally have the most followers; those who have blogged the longest get the most hits. He pointed out that the Left tends to be more “collectivist” while the Right tends to be more “individualist;” the Left consequently tends to be more likely to fundraise online. Left-wing politicians tend to be more prone to engage bloggers; Right-wing politicians are more top-down and dismissive, on the whole. Blogging is like an ocean: There are tides, and when your tide is coming in, you need to take advantage. If the tide is going out, you need to hold onto your gains.

Prior to the Q&A time, we were reminded that the goal of Right Online is to get the right wing more involved online. The Q&A session that followed was pretty thorough. Here is a digest of its important points.
· What can you do if you aren’t already engaged online? Emily suggested that the new media is a conversation more than anything else. Meet people online. Comment on blogs. She suggested that each person do one thing new, even if it is uncomfortable. Challenge others to start blogs and to read other blogs. Adam spoke about Twitter and what it can do.
· Emily mentioned that the average age of a Daily Kos reader is 43. It’s not just the youth that the Left has online.
· Emily also said you should “own your expertise.” Produce quality content on what you know. Commit to a medium (be it a blog, facebook, tweeting, etc.) and do something daily.
· Adam suggested turning in Barack Obama to, since he is lying abot the healthcare issues of our day. Suggestion was well received.
· Adam also said that it was important to translate online activism to “boots in the field.” Online activism won’t get nearly so much done unless it is accompanied by action: Getting out the vote, gaining contributions, etc. Emily added that did a good job linking online to action.
· John pointed out that conservatives tend to speak to logic, and liberals tend to speak to emotion. Conservatives need to use emotion, too [Remember Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “Death Panel” the other day?]. Adam pointed out that emotion typically wins elections.
· On the question of how to best find a “central location” that works well for your constituency, it was suggested that you get them all in a room and work it out, to see what will work best.

For part of the session, a twitter feed was shown on the video projector of what the participants in the room were tweeting. It was a busy group!

The remaining afternoon sessions will be dealing with blogging, twitter, and the like….Stay tuned!

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