Politicians Beware

Seth Godin describes how traditional political strategy clashes with the digital age of information.

Link: Meatball Sundae on Squidoo.

The traditional way to run a political campaign is to control your message. Control what you say and when you say it. Control who hears it.

Tell one story to your raving fans, and a more moderate story to people in the center.

As voters have seen again and again, politicians are good at this. Some people call it lying. But in general, politicians have gotten away with it.

The top-down, control-the-message strategy worked in the past for a few reasons:

* Media companies were complicit in not embarrassing the people they counted on to appear on their shows and authorize their licenses.
* Politicians could decide where and when to show up and could choose whether or not they wanted to engage.
* Bad news didn’t spread far unless it was exceptionally juicy.

But George Allen discovered that the rules have fundamentally changed. Allen’s challenger asked S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, to trail Allen with a video camera. The idea was to document Allen’s travels and speeches. During a speech in Breaks, Virginia, Allen turned to Sidarth and said, "Let’s give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen.

… YouTube reports that Allen’s slur has been watched on YouTube more than 318,000 times. Add to that the pickup from the broadcast media (which picked it up because it was popular, not because it was "important"), and you see why George Allen lost the election.

The ironic part of the appearance is that the first words out of Allen’s mouth on the tape are, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to run positive campaign." The story didn’t match the facts, and the facts showed up on YouTube.

Video sharing sites

TubeMogul provides a handy table describing the top video-sharing sites.

Link: Tubemogul.com – Why should Video Marketing be included in your marketing mix?.

Description Demographics Registration Upload Notes
YouTube No intro needed here Evenly female/male audience, even age distribution, U.S. East and West coasts. Easy Fast review process, mainly automated Experimenting with ad sharing
Yahoo! Video An original video destination, but late to the game Slight more male viewers, slightly older, even US geographic distribution Medium Relatively slow and unpredictable review process
MySpace Primarily a social networking site, but video is still huge High percentage of female and under 18 viewers Easy No review process. Videos go live immediately Being rebranded as MySpaceTV
Metacafe Popular worlwide, prides itself on community votes driving featured content Skews towards older, more educated, male viewers Easy Fast human review process Offers ad sharing
Google Video Increasingly becoming more of a video search engine Slightly more male viewers, disproportionately more Hispanic audience Medium Limited review process. Unlimited content length and size Integrates with other Google apps like Web Albums and Picasa
Revver One of the firrst video sites to offer ad revenue sharing Slightly older, white male crowd Easy Discriminating human review process Ads inserted into all videos
DailyMotion The YouTube of Europe Overwhelmingly white male. Higher age and income than most Easy Fast and easy Growing in the US
Blip.tv Publisher-friendly video sharing and distribution site Slightly more male, slightly higher income level than most video sites, even ethnic distribution Easy Easy Publisher can choose to insert ads
Brightcove Trying to bring TV to the internet Even split male and female. Few under 18 viewers Easy Easy Ad share options available
Crackle Focused on making people stars Largely male, disproportionately African-American audience Easy Slick Flash upload tool allows many videos in one shot Owned by Sony
Veoh Focused on full-screen video programming for anyone with a broadband connection Slightly more male viewers, predominantly Asian, distributed across all age categories Medium Easy Investors include Michael Eisner and Time Warner