Before telling you about ProjectVirginia, a little background may be helpful.
An interesting phenomenon occurred during the years George W. Bush was in the White House called Social Networking. There are many types of social networking sites. Dating sites, places to contact old classmates, travel networking and a whole lot more. A couple of these tools were embraced by the Democrats and proved extremely useful in organizing grassroots supporters and getting the message out quickly. There is no way to determine the exact impact of these tools on the successful election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States, but there is no doubt they helped.
Two of the most important tools are Twitter and Facebook. Now, these Social Networking sites may seem similar to those not familiar with them, as well as daunting. They are neither, I promise. It is not the scope of this post to explain the workings of Social Networks, so you will not be blasted with technical jargon here.
So are Democrats smarter, or more technically savvy than Republicans? And why are Republicans behind the curve? Well, to take a favorite line from President Obama, it’s George Bush’s fault. While that blame game is normally false, in this case it’s true. But in a good way. And no, they are neither smarter, nor more technically savvy.
During Bush’s 8 years, while all of this technology was developing and maturing, the Democrats were disorganized and wandering in the desert. The Republicans, however, had no real reason to tweet or worry about Facebook. Email was fine. But for the Democrats, desperation mandated a new approach. While they were forming a technological bond, an internet version of the Vulcan mind meld, Republicans were comfy with Bush and his Veto pen that made sure the crazy ideas we are seeing from the current administration stayed locked in Pandora’s box where they belong.
In 2006, this Social Networking managed to spread the information from candidate to voter in an instant. Still, Republicans remained happy with the “old” ways.
2008 was a major wake up call. Virtually every candidate is tweeting on Twitter or making Friends on FaceBook. Well, that’s cool and all, but simply using these tools is not enough. Most all campaigns have managers and staff that are experts in their field. Many of them are even fairly familiar with Twitter and Facebook, and use them. But most are wasting their time.
That is where ProjectVirginia comes in. Their goal is to put Republicans in seats. Period. While the process of using Facebook and Twitter is fairly easy, doing it right takes a lot of market research and know how.
I spoke with Ford O’Connell, President and one of the founders of ProjectVirginia. We spoke for about an hour last Friday and I was very impressed with his technological knowledge, and I am an IT manager with over 30 years in the Computer and communications field. And Ford is not the technical one. That would be Steve Pearson, who serves as the Treasurer and Chief Technologist of ProjectVirginia.
ProjectVirginia is funded in large part by donations as well as funding from the founders. They are able to provide the knowledge and know how to efficiently use these Social Networking tools in a coordinated effort along with a campaign website to maximize the effectiveness of communications and increase campaign contributions. For little or no cost. I don’t think there is a better option for such depth of knowledge anywhere.
Ineffective use of these tools can even cost you votes.
This is just the beginning for ProjectVirginia. By demonstrating the effective use of the available tools to aid Republicans, Virginia is the grassroots seeding ground for elections nation wide.
Rapidly changing technology presents opportunities that Republicans have never before imagined. And it is understood that this is an ongoing process. These tools evolve and change at a pace so rapid that expert assistance is not just an option, it is mandatory. Twitter, Facebook and the other tools may not (probably will not) be the best tools available next year, or years beyond.
If you are part of a campaign, the expertise of ProjectVirginia is an absolute necessity.
If you are a grassroots worker, what does this mean to you? It means that by paying attention to the information from your state and local campaigns, you will be receiving exactly the right information at the right time to help you put out the message that will get Republicans elected. You should learn to use the tools, and follow your local Republican candidate so you know what is really going on as situations evolve and change.
And evolution and change are the only constants in politics and Information Technology.
Please visit ProjectVirginia and look at the information on their website. And if you can donate a few dollars to help this effort, please click this link and donate. (And please note, this Blog is not affiliated with ProjectVirginia other than supporting their work. This is in no way a paid ad. It is my belief that your money needs to go to the candidates, which is where ProjectVirginia uses your donation – Tom). Please click the BLOG link and look at the very helpful information you will find there.