Political campaigning enters age of technology; The Obama’s secret revealed
4/16/2012 10:44:31 AM -
In today's political campaign environment, many of the candidates (including our parliamentary aspirants) find themselves faced with a dizzying array of new and updated technologies to help them in the electoral process. One thing that is clear is that the impact of technological instruments or tools cannot be underestimated when it comes to electoral fortunes of politicians.
Running for elected office is about connecting with voters, getting out your message, requesting contributions, building support, and of course, and most importantly, getting voters to actually go to the polls and cast votes.
There are new campaign support technologies that allow candidates to accomplish the tasks associated with their run for office more efficiently and often more cost effectively.
Experts believe that the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign was the most technologically advanced in history. The use of text messaging, social networking sites and mass emails by his staff are well documented. The staggering attraction the campaign team created through channels like facebook, iTunes, YouTube and podcasting websites reflected in the votes Obama eventually had.
Obama was able to connect with the youth and make them feel very important than ever as their concerns and worries were addressed and responded to at their personal level. That personal level of connection cannot be taken for granted. The youth believed that this was the man who understood the times and appreciated ideas no matter how insignificant they were. Who wouldn't like to associate with such a person?
However, there is one little known tool in his arsenal that most of the public is not aware of and that is audio conferencing. When the then Candidate Barack Obama wanted to communicate directly to his 'ground troops' or what we in Ghana call 'foot soldiers' (up to 1,000 at a time), he simply used the services of a company called Free Conferencing Corporation. During the campaign, the Obama team logged 5 million minutes of free conference calls.
Information from the Free Conference Corporation website revealed that the no-cost nature of the service fueled its successful usage and the general public felt very comfortable communicating with their preferred candidates.
With this teleconferencing facility now available in Ghana, it is just in time for our presidential and parliamentary candidates and their tech savvy campaign teams desirous of saving money to subscribe to it for the effective and efficient execution of this year's campaigning. In addition to the door-to-door campaign strategy, it is appropriate for our politicians to go phone-to-phone, hosting live town-hall teleconferences in which participants can ask questions and interact live with them from the comfort of their homes.
The commonest or cheapest technological tool a politician can use to get through to electorates in Ghana is the mobile phone. The tele-density of Ghana is now 680 per 1000. This means for every 1000 people there are 680 phone lines. A transformative growth from the early 90's when there were 2.6 lines for every 1000 Ghanaians. A winning campaign strategy must therefore consider the inclusion of such a ubiquitous too.
Through the use of an audio conferencing platform, political parties and politicians can now hold meetings between various organs of the party and at various organizational levels; constituency, district, regional, national. Polling station attendant training can be done remotely and at the same time without the need for congregating in one physical location.
Flag bearers can now use their phones as political rally grounds and achieve more with less through creative segmentation of different interest groups.
For instance, the flag bearer of a political party with his assigned conference number which can accommodate up to 1000 people at a go could decide to have frequent interactions with the electorates at a given time and address their concerns from the comfort of his home. Party executives, from the comfort of their homes or offices could now hold meetings frequently and share ideas. Thus reducing cost and risks associated with physical meetings.
Research has revealed that through the use of audio conferencing, which is now available in Ghana, political parties can broadcast their political rallies, press briefings and other programmes globally using the GSM networks. What this means is that, anybody anywhere in the world could listen to a political rally held in, say, Tamale by just dialing into an assigned number issued by Forum Networks Limited, operators of the teleconferencing facility.
In the US, in addition to the Obama campaign, those using the service include a fast growing number of Fortune 500 companies, international corporations, small and medium sized businesses, nonprofits, churches, community groups and even ordinary citizens who want to communicate with their relatives and friends en masse.