Monday, July 12, 2010

Robert Ehrlich Effectively using Social Media in Political Campaign

By Mitchell Schmale

Back on June 14, 2010, I blogged about the 2010 gubernatorial race in Maryland and how both candidates are planning to use social media platforms, such as FaceBook and Twitter, to share their political views and deliver their campaign messages directly to voters.

On July 1, the simmering social media campaign kicked into high-gear as Republican candidate Robert Ehrlich made the long awaited announcement of his running mate in former Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane. Ehrlich’s choice for his Lieutenant Governor may not have surprised many political analysts, but the way he made the announcement certainly did.

Ehrlich did not make the announcement at a press conference outside the State House in Annapolis or standing in front of his campaign headquarters or some other traditional campaign spot we have all come to expect in political races. Instead, he made the announcement via a You Tube video posted on his FaceBook page at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30.

The timing and method of his announcement had political pundits buzzing and also re-examining the possibilities and strategies behind the use of social media in the campaign. By using FaceBook as his chosen outlet to share his news, Ehrlich made his supporters in his social media network feel connected and important to their candidate. They were getting the news first and saw a real benefit to being connected to Ehrlich via Facebook. It also provided Ehrlich an inexpensive forum to share his campaign announcement and receive initial grassroots feedback to plan for next steps.

The announcement helped pump up fans on Ehrlich’s Facebook early in the race and build a greater network for future announcements and campaigning. Since the June 30 announcement, Ehrlich has grown his fans on Facebook by roughly 6,000 people to nearly 33,000 compared to his rival Governor Martin O’Malley’s more than 12,000.

Finally, the timing at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night was carefully orchestrated to make the announcement breaking news for 11 p.m. TV news networks across the state that night, as well as the top story the next morning during drive time.

I am sure we will see more announcements, as well as direct responses to various future campaign ads on both sides shared via social media forums as the race plays out through the coming months. Additionally, supporters and undecided voters alike will also see the benefit of following one or both candidates online to receive unedited and unfiltered campaign messages as they make their choice in November. The race is on…

Mitchell Schmale is the Vice President of Maroon PR's Corporate Division. Contact him at

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