Featured Column:Working Together To Register Each Other
_With the 2008 elections looming, this seemed a fitting time to spotlight our latest column from HeadCount
Politics has always been about social networking – relating ideas and desires to people who influence policy by lobbying, campaigning, and mobilizing support. In this election year, local and national candidates campaigns have lobbied the youth vote (18-29), courting potential voters on their generations home turfs; entertainment outlets, the internet, and college campuses. One Presidential candidates 2.0 marketing strategies have thus far proven more effective and insightful than the other in reaching and mobilizing the youth vote, but as a whole, what is truly exciting is the way that so many organizations, media networks, and other entertainment groups have formed a united front regarding creating voter awareness.
Using the tremendous assets if the entertainment industry in conjunction with new and emerging technologies, these groups have built themselves into a greater entertainment platform in a matter of months, striving to personally integrate each user into doing something. By reaching people in their comfort zone and inspiring and motivating them with cool, relevant incentives this multi-faceted strategy may prove more effective than traditional campaigning. In the Presidential primary alone, 6.5 million voters under age 30 came out and we can definitely increase that number. Every day a new partnership is announced, a new contest launched, a new tactic is devised to reach both registered and un-registered voters, and to rally around a very specific cause over the next 50 days. The message is clear. The youth vote can potentially make or break this election, so get yourself and your friends registered at least 30 days in advance of the election at www.HeadCount.org and get to the polls on November 4th!
This United we Stand, Divided we Fall mentality has spurred groups across the nation into action. Long-standing national voter registration movements like Rock the Vote! and Vote or Die are increasingly supplemented by newer groups. In many states and metropolitan areas, HeadCount, the Bus Projects, and Student PIRGs not only register people, but engage, educate, and motivate them at music and community events. Online communities like Phantasy Tour, YouTube, and Xboxs gaming community have converged with social networking groups like FaceBook, MySpace, and imeem, and music-based networks like MTV or VH1 offering super-cool incentives to motivate people. HeadCount, MTV networks, and Rock the Vote! have partnered with other groups in promoting Death Cab for Cutie at the Ultimate College Bowl, where the band will play a private show at the college whose students register the most voters. Install the widgets for the UCB contest or HeadCounts Push the Button event on high traffic sites you frequent and youll have a chance to win a trip on JamCruise 7. (See HeadCount.org for details)
Traditional print publications like Rolling Stone, Relix, and Spin, as well as online media like JamBands and JamBase are using their tremendous reach and subscription services to get people thinking about voting. MTV has youth journalists addressing sharing their experiences and encouraging everyone to think about this election in personal terms. Personal blogs are certainly on the rise and user created content on YouTube allows people to provide commentary in less traditional ways. Many individual citizens videos have gone viral, as well as candidate spotlights from around the country. No longer is geographic proximity a prerequisite for joining a community and users unwittingly participate in the marketing communications every time they post, forward a link, or rate a video.
Live music production companies like Superfly Presents, AEG, and Live Nation, in addition to almost every large-scale festival this summer have hosted voter registration drives. At the almost 40 festivals HeadCount participated in during the summer of 2008, roughly 10,000 people were registered. Many musical artists are offering special alerts and personal messages to their fan club members in this election year. Bands are coming up with unique ways to reward their fans for civic engagement like the Disco Biscuits, who are offering a chance to write and record a song with members of the band in their studio. And over a dozen artists Dave Matthews Band, RatDog, and STS9, to name a few – have donated their brand to the cause; making their tracks available for free download, lending their name to this specific cause borne out of a personal belief, or donating portion of their ticket sales to HeadCounts Cents for Cents campaign. Everybody is getting involved in this movement. There is a motivator for almost every youth demographic and its as easy as cut-copy-paste and e-blasting your address book.
In addition, many sites and campaigns are using text and mobile messaging (SMS) capabilities to channel and lobby users. Mobile marketing has proved extremely effective because it is non-intrusive, can be targeted to area or zip codes users, and is excellent for reaching a demographic that is not as readily accessible through traditional marketing methods. Barack Obama used text messaging exclusively to announce his vice-presidential candidate, Senator Joe Biden, targeting a generation that will make up an increasing percentage of the electorate in the coming years. Mobile messaging has proved so effective that non-profit websites like www.txtvoter.org have sprung up to target the roughly 80% of the population that carries cell phones. For those who are better reached through email, services like I Vote, You Vote allows users to send remember to vote/register email reminders to friends who might need to update their registrations. If you know anyone who has recently moved and is too swamped to think about re-registering, send them an invitation link. And if you are already registered, check out the Pledge to Vote on HeadCounts site; upon signing it, you will be entered to win a pair of VIP passes to Bonnaroo 2009.
This Presidential election is going to be close and will ultimately de decided by who shows up at the polls. Using the reach of artists, organizations, groups, and companies in conjunction with new 2.0 web technologies is serving to reinvigorate a new generation to get involved and mobilize. This movement is simply to get people to register and vote and can connect people across issues, party lines, geography, and demographics. With all the contests and incentives to get you and your friends to vote, there is no reason not to participate.