Mayoral Campaigns Go Viral

Early voting for the Mayoral Election starts today. If you're still not sure who to vote for, you might want to check out who your friends have picked. At least, that's what the campaigns are hoping you'll do using Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. From the KUHF NewsLab, Melissa Galvez reports on how the campaigns are using social networking.

(Dog barking)

This is Hemi, a yellow lab.  Hemi has a blog on Facebook, where he writes about Annise Parker's views on animal rights: dog parks, spaying and neutering, and the future of BARC. He also has a personal fund-raising goal of $1,000 dollars.

"Come here Hemi!  What do you have to say about Annise Parker?"

Like many others, the Parker campaign uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and their own website to promote events, respond to voter questions, and fund-raise.  But Jeri Brooks, Communications Director, say that with such tools, people can easily spread support to their friends.  She showed me her Facebook page.

"So when I first came on to the campaign, I was like, ‘Yeah I think Annise is great', so whenever you come to my page, there's actually an advertisement."
"So if I'm one of your friends, I might see this and say, ‘Jeri supports Annise, maybe I should friend her too?" 
"Yes, who is this person?Or let me know more about this person."

Brooks says that Parker has over 17,000 on line supporters.  Those people may be duplicates, or may not even vote for Parker-but it's a base of potential voters receiving tweets like, "Annise has a new concept-what do you think?"

"I'm Sherra Aguirre, mother of Tembi and Attica Locke.  As a divorced father in the 1970's Gene made sure he stayed active in his kids' lives…"

Grace Rodriguez is social media strategist for the Gene Locke campaign.  She says one of their most successful tools are videos, especially from people who know him well-like his ex-wife.  Locke also does his own tweets, and keeps up a separate Facebook page with personal information. 

"That's one of the big things about social media, you know, people say that trust is the new capital, and how do you get people to trust you then? It's to make sure that you're transparent and honest in everything you do, and that people can tell what's coming from Gene and what's coming from the campaign"

Roy Morales's team sent a random survey to users on MySpace and Facebook, and found that far fewer respondents from MySpace were registered to vote.  This is TJ Huntley, Morales' internet media director.

"So on MySpace, we use that to try to register people to vote, we send them a link that they can register online, then we let them know that they can register at any post office, any library."

At the Peter Brown campaign office, phone bankers are hard at work. Of course, his campaign also uses online tools.  One woman contacted them through Facebook to say her son was a huge fan of Brown.  Here's communications assistant Mike Phillips:

"There's this kid Garrett, I think he's about 4, and basically Garrett had seen Peter on TV, so his mom brought him in, and he got to meet Peter, and he was really really excited"

Which may be a reminder that face to face communication is always important, after all.

From the KUHF NewsLab, I'm Melissa Galvez.


From the above article:

To read Hemi's comments on Facebook, visit Animals 4 Annise  on Facebook.
The video of Sherra Aguirre is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLcCC3oj4Aw&feature=related.

To find the individual candidates online tools, visit the candidates websites at: