In the Race for Social Media Dominance, the GOP is Getting Crushed

Editor's NotePolicyMic is partnering with Concord 51 to host a series of conversations with millennials & high-profile conservatives on the future of the GOP, timed with CPAC 2013. Follow Concord 51 on Facebook and Twitter.

In the post-2012 era, elections are being driven by social media – tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and ads on your smart phones – and there is one party way out front: the Democrats. This was most clearly on display during the 2012 election.

The traditional political strategists employed by the Republican party have yet to grasp the core appeal of social media: people (especially young people) want to be connected. Few individuals between the ages of 18-25 have enough money to make a ripple in the political arena, but social media gives them to outlet to do so in a significant way.

While the Romney campaign hired old school politicos in 2012, the Obama campaign employed high energy particle physicists, an unrivaled data/analytics team filled with the best and brightest from the Silicon Valley and the smartest college grads. While the GOP was looking up the definitions to unfamiliar words like Facebook and Twitter, Obama was engaging literally millions of young voters on the hottest online forums, like Reddit. The Obama camp engaged with the highest profile bloggers and Twitterati to drive their messages home. They flooded YouTube with clever and effective propaganda, spreading like wildfire and reaching hundreds of thousands of people in mere seconds, wiping out progress made by the Romney camp through traditional channels.

In the race for social media dominance, firepower must be fought with firepower. Still, the GOP must make efforts to engage young people socially, without sacrificing the responsibilities and ideals that make the party what it is. There are many young people looking for a conservative outlet to voice their opinions and have them heard, and they just need the opportunity to do so. There are people who hold conservative views and are equally as talented as those on the left. We must bring these folks into our campaigns to compete on the same playing field and have a fighting chance. It is not only important to play on the right field, but also to speak the right language. We must educate conservative politicians on how to communicate and connect in this new universe, or all the effort will have gone to waste.

Politicians who wish to grasp the potential of social media need to understand that all great advantages can be easily used as a detriment. With an election, that can be changed with the snap of a picture and instantly broadcasted throughout the country, so the margin of error is miniscule.

The GOP can improve in this area immediately. We need to leverage the benefits of social media while being wary of the consequences. Without this powerful force driving our purpose into the very hands of those voters who control the future, we are guaranteed to fail once more. But with it, we can tap into a massive portion of this country the GOP has not seen for some time, and use it to propel this country in the right direction once more.

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Alex Orlando

Alex is the founder of the Fordham University Chapter of Concord 51.

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