The time period from campaign promises to delivery has traditionally been lengthy. The public voted for the candidates of their choice based on a belief that they were going to live up to their word. From start to finish, this process usually took one to two years - the duration of which became increasingly frustrating when candidates failed to deliver on their promises. Today, with the assistance of social media, we can now prompt candidates to move quicker on delivering what they say - even before they get into office.
Differing from GOP's 1994 "Contract with America" which was revolutionary in its time, its lasting effect was debatable. While all of the Contract's uses were brought to vote in the first 100 days by Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, most died in the Senate or on the president's desk. In this instance, however, it is important to note that promises were kept, they just didn't have the political fortitude to sustain themselves by enacted into law.
Flash forward to 2010, and there is now an attempt by the GOP to clone the "Contract with America" with a new set of promises called "America Speaking Out," and its "Pledge to America." Differing from 1994, however, the GOP now has the tools to engage voters during the formation process of their new platform. The effort is hinged on their social network that is an innovative example of how to build and stimulate voter support via social media's user-generated initiatives.
This post is not political in the sense that I am not for or against either party. I am not so much interested in the current debate from our two-party system as I am in how they embrace social media. On the Democratic side, it is evident that Obama and his team engaged in the medium to the extent that many have suggested it was the reason he got elected. However, in July, in a post, titled, "Does Social Media's First President Need to Go Back To The Well in 2010?," it appeared that Obama's administration might have strayed from some of the social media principles that put them office.
With the launch of the GOP's social network "America Speaking Out," the implicit goal of the site is to solicit ideas from voters for policies to be pursued by the party, in advance of its assumed belief it will be able to take back the House of Representatives in November. Users can suggest policies and vote on others suggested by and bubbled up from the "wisdom of crowds."
In this way, in advance of the elections, voters can feel part of the process in developing the promises for the GOP candidates they would eventually elect. This has been noted by many as being not only a very savvy political move, but also a wise strategic marketing tactic. Buy-in by users via social networks is what is steering commerce today and most of the more successful brands have learned and acted on its best practices.
According to a Media Post blog, the GOP site has attracted over 100,000 registered users, who have contributed 16,000 policy ideas - generating 800,000 votes (both for and against). The subsequent results will then determine the party's "Pledge to America."
The 'fly in the ointment' is whether or not the party is truly "listening to the people" or simply acting on the suggestions that are already part of the party's platform. As Erik Sass wisely points out in his Media Post report, "it turns out some of the most popular ideas were quietly omitted from the 'Pledge to America,' including the second-most-popular entry in the "jobs creation" category, a provision which would 'Stop the outsourcing of jobs from America to other countries that do not pay taxes into the U.S. and stop the tax breaks that are given to these companies that are outsourcing.'"
Keeping our favored parties in check is now incumbent upon the voter. The days of being told what is best for us and learning otherwise after candidates are in office can now be officially classified as "old school." Social media has shifted the power back to the people. In many respects, it is the most democratic system that we have in our political and marketing arsenal. Use it wisely and we can see results before candidates disappoint us after the fact.