Republican officials attempt to engage public through social media
TAMPA, Fla., — Before Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took the stage in the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. on Aug. 28, tweets about the convention ran along an LCD strip around the forum.
The new age of social media was here for the Republican National Convention, or RNC.
For the 2012 convention, the party is implementing a “Convention Without Walls” designed to help connect not only those at the RNC, but outside of it. The “Convention Without Walls” feature is a Facebook app that connects and allows user to share content and receive behind the scenes updates.
“Our goal is to engage as many people as possible and to showcase Mitt Romney’s vision for a better America,” 2012 RNC Director of Communications James Davis said in an email.
The “Convention Without Walls” is an attempt to make the convention one of the most accessible events, convention CEO William Harris said in a press release.
“Wherever you live, whatever device you use, we want you to engage as an active participant in this convention,” Harris said in the release.
The “Convention Without Walls” app is not the only push the RNC is making to connect with voters across the country. The RNC is on various social networks—Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest. They display convention photos on Flickr and Instagram.
John Truscott, president of Lansing-based communications firm Truscott Rossman and an MSU alumnus, said political campaigns can no longer ignore expanding social media.
“Republicans saw how effective the president was in reaching out in social media,” Truscott said. “The Romney campaign has learned those lessons.”
Truscott said he believes incorporating social media into campaigns is here to stay and will only expand as technology changes.
“It’s a new version of neighbor to neighbor contact,” Truscott said.
Political theory and constitutional democracy senior Nick Kowalski, who is attending the RNC, said expanding into social media is a great resource to get the message out.
“Technologically speaking, (the party) has improved,” Kowalski said. “President Obama took advantage of all the high tech mediums. Now the tables have turned.”
For Mary Stasek, an alternate delegate from Ingham County, social media is a way for not only her to connect to the convention, but a way for younger voters to connect as well.
“As our groups get younger, there’s more that they do in social media,” Stasek said.
Truscott stressed the benefits of social media as a way to reach out to people and modern day campaigns will not survive without it.
“You ignore it at your own peril,” Truscott said.