23-Year-Old Uses MySpace to Build MD Candidate’s Volunteer Base, and Capture the Primary

Update–11/9/06

  1. Peter Franchot won, easily
  2. Read my comprehensive interview with Jacob Colker here to learn his six steps to building and maintaining a loyal social network for your nonprofit.

Frogloop, a blog published by the online progressive community Care2, reported recently on an amazing primary victory by Peter Franchot, a candidate for Maryland Comptroller. It was amazing because the victory was generated primarily (claims Frogloop’s Justin Perkins) via volunteers recruited and motivated by the power of social networking — MySpace and Facebook to be specific.

As the election nears, and I hear and read constant coverage of the bitter, hard-punching battles between incumbents and their challenges, I’ve been thinking a lot about how social networking can be put to work for campaigners. This recent MD victory, reported first in a great article by Chicago Tribune reporter  Mike Dorning on social networking’s role in the 2006 elections,  is just one of many influenced by social networking. NOTE: I’ll dive into Dorning’s article for more social networking being put to use in these midterm elections in another post.

What’s particularly interesting about the MD campaign is the warp speed — only four weeks — with which 23-year-old organizer Jacob Colker recruited 80% of the entire volunteer base (by searching for college students in the region whose profiles indicated a poli sci major and liberal perspective). and put them to work making 15,000 phone calls and dropping the 50,000 pieces of campaign literature.  Pretty incredible, very inexpensive, very easy and very likely to have implications for your nonprofit.

Colker credits the success of his online organizing skills to his experience promoting his band, Medici. Strangely enough, even prior to this win, the folks at Care2 had produced Think Like a Rock Band: How to Use Social Networking Sites for Political Campaigns which guides nonprofits and campaign staffs alike to use the Web and social networking sites to engage and motivates audiences.

Remember — If your target audiences include those under 35 (and that ceiling is likely to change), your nonprofit can’t afford to ignore this increasingly important channel. Take a look at the free first chapter for a useful checklist of prerequisites to effective messaging in an online social network.

Social networkers, take your mark. The elections, and your issue areas, are up for grabs.

Note to readers: Care2 and Getting Attention are both members of the Nonprofit Blog Exchange.

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Nancy Schwartz on October 19, 2006 in Advocacy, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Networking, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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