The Huntsman girls – Mary Anne, Liddy, and Abby – have become media darlings, as their guerilla social and new media campaign has sparked a media frenzy surrounding the Jon Huntsman campaign. Before the girls ramped up their social media work – establishing the @jon2012girls Twitter handle and amassing over 13,000 followers and releasing clever YouTube videos – their father’s presidential hopes were essentially dead; now his campaign at least has a pulse.
The girls have done nothing revolutionary when it comes to social media and political campaigns, but they have made the Huntsman campaign the first to really cash in on the social media goldmine this election cycle. They have effectively used the social media tools at their disposal, producing content on a variety of different mediums, giving themselves ample opportunities to shamelessly network and promote their father’s campaign.
Other campaigns should take note of the Huntsman girls’ success and replicate it; passive social media campaigns do not cut it anymore. Social media is not just a tool to reach young voters anymore, it is a vital tool that brings politicians closer to their electorate and invigorates a campaign.
The 2008 campaign proved that social media could be an effective tool to fuel campaigns. Then candidate Barack Obama utilized a larger online staff to garner a large number of Facebook followers (5 times larger that McCain’s) and heavy traffic to his YouTube videos and website (4 times and 2 times larger, respectively, than McCain’s). The social media effort by the Obama campaign staff generated a buzz on numerous platforms; it was more than a simple newsfeed. It effectively targeted potential voters in areas and integrated discussion amongst the masses. Following the campaign, the Obama administration created Change.gov, a site that gave people a chance to share their opinions of policies during the transition.
In the short time since, the social media landscape has continued to evolve and has grown immensely. The Huntsman girls’ strategy is not the same as the Obama social media campaign, but they are generating the same type of buzz. They have made the Huntsman campaign hip by implementing satire and humor, while attempting to integrate meaningful political messages (and yes, it does not hurt that they are beautiful too). They have also not been shy at going after other candidates; they famously ripped on Romney for his lack of knowledge on China and have poked fun at Herman Cain. Yes, their posts are not always the most informative or politically correct, but they are driving traffic to the Huntsman campaign site and bringing much needed attention to the campaign.
These new media platforms have become the ultimate marketing tool and each candidate needs to understand that. Establishing profiles on multiple social media platforms is a must, as is creating YouTube videos. Bland updates don’t cut it, not everything needs to be buttoned up and safe. Politicians need to drive traffic to their feeds, sites, and campaign; give voters a behind the scenes look at campaigns. The Huntsman girls have tapped into this, showing the family-oriented nature of the former governor of Utah to the public.
Social media is both the present and the future, and politicians must adapt to it. Social media followers are not only valued voters but could also become valued volunteers. Jon Huntsman is feeling the powerful push of a solid social media backing, and he is hoping to ride that wave to a win in New Hampshire, and if he does he would owe a great deal to his savvy daughters.
Photo Credit: Zennie62