new media

Home » new media

Objectivity in the News: What’s the Point?

You may never hear me say this again, but I am proud to proclaim that I am more progressive than my peers here at UVA.

When a group of twenty of us were asked whether it was worth making the effort to retain objectivity in the reporting of news, nineteen said yes: reporters and news organizations should strive for objectivity, and we should highly value reportage that we determine to be without bias.

The one dissenter was, as you may have guessed, yours truly.

And really, why should we continue the pursuit of this sham we call objectivity? By objectivity, I mean reporting news in such a way as to remove any preconceived notions or opinions from the selection or documentation of facts, conveying to the reader only the relevant information and allowing him or her to form an opinion.

I’ll say it as frankly as I can: objectivity in the media is a fruitless and unfulfillable pursuit that only the naive choose to perpetuate. The more realistic and – dare I say it – forward thinking among us have exchanged objectivity for transparency, and I submit to you that transparency is what we should begin looking for in our news. Call me a cynic if you will, but this is where the world is headed.

Why not value objectivity? The idea seems logical. We would love to have the facts packaged and delivered to us, allowing us to judge for ourselves what the best course of action would be in any given situation. For example, if any of us read a news story composed simply of the current federal budget, we would love to think for ourselves and conclude that cutting spending is the best way to go. Or, if you read a short news story telling you that millions of illegal immigrants come over our southern border every year, you would probably conclude that securing the border is the best first step toward solving the problem. Objective reporting sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

The problem is that no news outlet reports just the facts. If they did, we would be bored out of our minds. Take the budget example. Do you really want to read “just the facts” about the federal budget? Of course not. It is much more interesting to hear the two sides of the debate and cheer for whichever side has the best ideas. There is nothing wrong with that. But make no mistake: fair and balanced reporting is not objective. If we were given the option of “just the facts” objectivity, most of us would find it very unappealing.

In addition to being boring, objective reporting is a figment of news editors’ imaginations. If you watch any of the major network news outlets or read any of the major newspapers, all of which claim to be “objective,” “unbiased,” or even “no spin,” you know that unbiased reporting is not practiced anywhere and is, in fact, impossible. We have all heard about the New York Times‘ decline and slow, painful, impending death. I’ve got news for the Times: readers have realized that their claims of objectivity are hollow, and their subscriptions have been steadily cut off as a result.

What I encourage you all to do instead is to embrace and perpetuate a trend of transparency in the media rather than objectivity. Accept bias and subjectivity as par for the course. Watch Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or Neil Cavuto. Listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Mark Levin. And, in addition, watch Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, and Rachel Maddow. If you have some obscure cable package that enables you, find Keith Olbermann’s show and become one of his ten viewers. Read RedState.com, the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, or this very blog.

All of these news sources come with bias, preconceived notions, and opinions. What’s more, they wear their subjectivity on their sleeve. They are by no means objective in the way they report, but they are transparent. If you want conservative news aimed at grassroots activists, read the American Majority blog or RedState.com. If you want a conservative take on your national news, watch FoxNews. If you want to find out what the people on the other side of the debate are thinking, turn on MSNBC and grab some antacids. Regardless of what a reporter’s perspective is, we should value his or her transparency rather than objectivity in reporting.

If we know a news source’s bias before reading, we know how much credence to give it while consuming it. For decades before our current one, Americans bought into heinous stories and philosophies because they received them from what they thought were “objective” news networks reporting the “facts.” We know better now. In this world of new media, social media, blogs, and do-it-yourself reporting, we know that objectivity is impossible and fruitless. What we need is transparency and honesty. May we pursue it, and may we become better armed as a result.

 

I’m Talking About Glenn Beck Again

This time he’s taking on Google, and this is sure to be a battle of epic proportions.

In this clip found on NBC Bay Area’s website (more on this less-than-professional news outlet in a moment), Beck questions the ties of the internet giant and says that he will most likely not be using Google anymore.

Now, briefly, I’d like to point out that, contrary to the article’s title, Beck does not “urge a Google boycott.” In fact, he emphatically says the opposite. He states that he personally will not be using it, but that he is not trying to lead a boycott. Second, look at the picture of Beck posted at the top of the article. I’m not sure if it’s the NBC affiliated status, the San Francisco location, or both, but something tells me these guys don’t like Glenn Beck very much.

Now, about Google.

Beck explains that, for several reasons, he is “uncomfortable” with Google because of its involvement in the recent Egyptian revolution, its coziness with the U.S. government, and its donations to some left-wing organizations. His discomfort is warranted.

Last year, Google donated $145 million to charity, some of these donations to left-wing non profit groups. However, as found here, Google has a policy of matching the charitable gifts of its employees up to $12,000, meaning that plenty of non-left-wing groups received Google money as well. As Beck mentions, Google has partnered with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, an agency that exists to provide satellite images to government intelligence services. This could be good for national security given the sophistication of Google Earth, but it is also a bit disconcerting.

But all things considered, the bigger question is: what should we do about it? Even Beck says,

I’m not sure if I want my search engine involved in government overthrows, good or bad. What I want from a search engine is good search results.

Like Beck, I would prefer that my search engine not be involved in revolutions. But the sticky part of this situation is that Google is the undisputed king of good search results. It is the single most visited site on the internet with over three billion hits per day. Statistically, over 95 percent of you found the American Majority website for the first time through Google.

Moreover, American Majority recognizes the importance of using Google to your advantage as a conservative activist, even though Google and its executives have shown themselves to be liberal more often than not. When we speak of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), we are really talking about what we call “Google Juice,” your ability to appear high on a list of Google Search results. SEO is crucial in creating your online presence as a candidate or activist, and Google is virtually the only search engine worth focusing on.

So, being that Glenn Beck influences so many people, what do we do now? Is Google worth worrying about, or will we go on using it because it is the biggest and best? I don’t know about you, but I have to think for a few seconds to even come up with the name of an alternative search engine to Google. Can we even make a dent? Should we even try?

Google before you Tweet – it’s the new think before you speak!

Every once in a while, I receive emails from well- meaning friends that tell of all sorts of treacherous and nefarious things going on right under our noses.  “Events” that are mind numbing to imagine yet happen and no one will pay attention because the media are part of the “global conspiracy”.

You have probably received a few of these yourself.  Do you recall the email describing President George W. Bush’s lamentable IQ score, labeling him as the most obtuse president in American history?  Or, how every US Presidential election since 1936 can be accurately pre-determined based upon the outcome of the Washington Redskins home games.  Or how about the one that says: If we all ban getting our gas from a certain distributor on Wednesdays, then our prices will lower.

Without double checking and even triple checking our facts, we risk the possibility of being perceived as people that are just not living in reality.  When someone is branded as wearing a tin foil hat, they often are never taken seriously again.

This goes beyond just forwarded emails.  With all of the social technology that is available at our fingertips, verbal miscues can be made at break-neck speed and they last on the internet for virtually ever.  False information can be forwarded by accident with incredible ease.  Status updates that border on the crazy can follow you all the way to your next job interview.  Opposition research will have a field day searching Facebook statuses for years to come.  Immature college antics coming back to haunt you could become the “better than Christmas” gift your political opponent will use for 10,000 get out the vote mailers.

Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the reply, forward and update buttons:

  1. Do your due diligence
  2. If something sounds particularly dramatic, it deserves extra special attention and research.
  3. Perception is reality.  If readers perceive you to react irrationally to everything, you will quickly lose all credibility.

Your Mom always told you to think before you speak.  Now you must google before you tweet.  The vernacular may have changed, but the concept has not.  For more information on American Majority’s trainings, check out our resources page at http://americanmajority.org/resources/ and learn additional tricks of the trade when it comes to effective activism and campaigning.

What To Give Thanks For This Holiday Season? How About Social Media?

This past month I had an opportunity to visit several countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe and experience the rich cultural history that so many of these places have to offer.  Yes, if you are a friend on Facebook, you probably saw the countless photos that I posted of my trip.  It was my best attempt to put into perspective my experiences and provide a glimpse of the historical impact that these cities have had in the past century.

However, my iPhoto descriptions can’t do justice to the actions, some heroic, most despicable, and all unforgettable, that took place in such places as Berlin, Krakow, Auschwitz and Prague.  I understand that unless you actually visit, set foot on the grounds where some of these horrific events occurred, the lasting impressions aren’t quite as overpowering as what I experienced.

As I was posting my photos and thoughts on Facebook, I could only think to myself, “what if these social media tools were available during the Holocaust, or even in the later half of the past century?”  “Would those in charge of carrying out these terrible actions be in power as long as they were?”  “Would the actions carried out by the Czech student Jan Palach, who set himself on fire (and later died) in Prague’s Wenceslas Square in an act of political protest against the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, have happened?”

Yes, I dislike hypothetical questions as much as the next, and certainly understand that today’s technological innovations were but a pipe dream during this period.  But, needless to say, I think it is important that we ponder these questions, if for nothing else than to appreciate the significance that social media plays in today’s world.

We all understand that, in the world in which we live in, oppressive regimes still exist, implementing horrendous acts.  They make a point to crack down on social media usage by their citizens who attempt to speak out, doing so not because they don’t understand social media, but instead because they realize its power.

The positive impact that social media is having throughout our world is undeniable.  Let us not forget, particularly during this holiday season, that one of the things that we should be thankful for is the opportunity to express our political beliefs freely and openly through the use of social media.  We sometimes joke about it, but quite frankly, I can’t imagine our country and world without it.  It has been a force of change, all for the better.

Seeing the Light Born of a Dark Two Years

In the middle of October, 2008, when I still had my own personal blog (never again) I predicted that Barack Obama would win the Presidential election.  Though the poll numbers were still pretty tight at that point, the writing was on the wall as far as I was concerned.  Thus I conceded a month early and wrote a post about what conservatives should do next after the November elections.

The purpose of the post (entitled “The Conservative Reaction: A Call to Action”) was to ask the question:

“What should we as Conservatives do after the election we face of an overwhelming Democratic House and Senate and a newly elected Democratic President?”

Now, two years later, I wanted to go back and see how conservatives have done.  Thus, here is what I wrote as the “Five Things I am Going to Try to do During LUPO – Life Under President Obama”.  Check them out along with my new comments underneath.

Number 1: As a conservative, Barack Obama’s election means I must stand firm in my convictions and be ready to defend my positions…

First off, I know of many folks who immediately started reading up on the free market system, the constitution, and the history of the founding fathers in order to begin educating themselves.  Additionally, conservatives have been challenged by prominent conservatives to know where they stand and why.  And overall, conservatives have started going on the offensive more and more as the country has been taken down the road to even more massive government and less individual freedom.

Because people have embraced this responsibility, it has truly been incredible to see how many folks are now openly touting their conservative beliefs and their love for liberty.  Well done, American public.

Number 2: As a conservative, Barack Obama’s election means I must be creative in how I get my message to the masses…

When I wrote this post two years ago I was really curious how this was going to play out.  But two years later, I see how conservatives are using tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and conservative websites to truly spread the message of conservatism effectively and strategically.  Heck, even conservative candidates are (finally) eschewing traditional media sources and taking their message straight to the people.

It is truly amazing to know that our better ideas and principled positions are finally starting to reach the average citizen – and it is humbling to know that American Majority has been at the forefront of this movement through our trainings, outreach, and education of a new generation of concerned Americans.

Score another one for the good guys.

Number 3: As a conservative, Barack Obama’s election means I must unite with those around me who believe as I do…

The implications of this advice are obvious two years later – The Tea Party Movement.  Not only has the movement grown exponentially since the spring of 2009, but it has also become a political force in all parts of the country.  And while the MSM mocked it, misunderstood it, and tried its best to kill it, the Tea Party folks have continually gotten more and more excited about cleaning house in Washington.  Thanks for that, President Obama; in reality, we owe you big time.

Oh, and just to channel my inner Al Gore, since I wrote about the need to unite and come together about 6 months before the Tea Parties started, I will take full and complete credit for them.  Yea for me.

Number 4: As a conservative, Barack Obama’s election means I must not give into the lie that conservatism is dying…

Well, obviously this is not the case.  Even though the pundits declared a new era in politics and the death of the conservative movement, we’ll see just how dead we are on November 2.

However, as a side note, if the (hopefully) decisive election results don’t clearly state the case for the country’s desire for smaller government, less spending, more accountability, and decidedly more transparency, then maybe Chris Christie can get in someone’s face and explain it to them nice and plain-like.

Number 5: Lastly, as a conservative, Barack Obama’s election means I must embrace the hope that even though things look dark now, there is a light upon the dawn…

Ah, yes, hope.  Not a false hope or a government-built hope, but a genuine and authentic “clean-out-the-halls-of-Congress-kind-of-hope” is what I feel when I look around the country and see people working hard to change our country for the better.  It truly is a blessing to see that apathy is slowly being replaced once again by the American desire for freedom, liberty, and prosperity.

Thus, before we battle for the next 20+ days for the future of this country, take a second to enjoy the fact that the horizon is breaking forth through the morning dark.  Relish the thought that soon our anger, our disgust, and our weariness will soon be replaced by a steadfast resolve to hold a new batch of elected representatives responsible for their actions and their votes.

For it is nearing the time to go from educated and informed voter to become educated and informed constituents once again – this time with a new focus and a renewed strength to see the American Dream make its comeback.

And be sure that while our days have been dark for the past two years, the light of freedom will show itself very bright very soon.  For this reason, I am thankful and encouraged by what has transpired within this movement during the past two years and what will happen many years into the future.

Fight on, fellow Americans, fight on!

#TWITTER TIPS FOR @YOURORGANIZATION

I was recently asked by a former American Majority training attendee how he could use twitter in order to grow his organization and make it more effective.  This is something that quite a few activists I’ve encountered have had questions about.  Many people know what twitter is and the basics of how to use it; but so many fail to realize what an effective FREE tool this social networking site can be for their organization.

Many times during my trainings when I present the idea of using twitter for political purposes I see eyes roll and hear mild scoffs.  However, when used in the right manner, twitter can do great things for your grassroots organization.  Below are a few simple ways that you can benefit your group, your candidate, and the liberty movement easily and at no cost:

  • STEP 1: CREATE A TWITTER PAGE FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION

When creating this twitter page, be sure the username for the page is the same or similar to the name of the organization.  Twitter allows you to have a username of up to 15 characters.  If your group’s name is longer than that, you might have to get creative in coming up with a similar, but shorter name.  The name needs to be similar to the actual name of the group so that people searching on twitter for your organization can find it easily.

  • STEP 2: BUILD THE INFO

Before you start finding followers, you need to build up the information portion of your page.  You want to make sure that those visiting your page will know what your organization is about so that they will know whether they want to receive your group’s tweets or not.  To do this, sign in to your twitter page and click “settings” in the upper right-hand corner.  This will bring up the account settings portion of your settings options.  On the settings option bar, click “profile.”  Here, you will have the option to upload an image or graphic that represents your organization.  You will also have the option to enter the full name of your organization, your organization’s location, your group’s website, and a short bio about your organization (no more than 145 characters).

  • STEP 3: FIND FOLLOWERS

Be creative when trying to find followers and promote your group’s page.  If the organization has handouts, a website, or business cards, put the group’s twitter information on them.  Another good way to initially gain followers is by following people in the community that you think might be interested in your organization.  When you choose to follow somebody, they will receive a notification in their email informing them.  When they see that there is a like-minded organization following them, they will likely choose to follow that organization’s twitter updates.

  • STEP 4: TWEET TO BOOST ATTENDANCE

Tweet all meetings with times and locations multiple times so that people following the group are reminded of when the next meetings are going to be.  Do the same with any events that the group may host or attend.  Also, tweet links and summaries of news articles and blogs that would be relevant to the movement and the group’s members and followers.

  • STEP 5: TWEET USING #HASHTAGS

When tweeting, use hashtags as much as possible when it is relevant.  Hashtags are words that are used in tweets to describe the subject or topics at hand.   A few good hashtags to keep in mind while tweeting are #tcot, #tlot, , #teaparty, #tpp, #912, and #majority (used by people who believe that WE are the majority in America).  The benefit to using hashtags in your tweets is that the more a hashtag is used, the higher it appears on “trending topics” which is viewed by all twitter users.  It also provides a link on your tweets for your followers to click and view every tweet that has used that particular hashtag.  This allows your group’s followers access to a large group of like-minded twitter users.   You can also create your own hashtag for your group and encourage group members to use it in their tweets to further promote your organization.

  • STEP 5: RT’ing & TWEETING @TWEEPLE

“RT” stands for “re-tweeting.”  Re-tweeting is best described as taking a twitter message someone else has posted, and rebroadcasting that same message to your followers. When tweeting this message, you typically give credit to the original poster.  Re-tweeting is a great way to promote an organization, person, or message to your followers.

When you tweet at “@somebody” you are tweeting a message towards a person.  This also helps to promote that particular individual to your organization’s followers.  This can be very effective if your group chooses to support a specific candidate during an election.  By tweeting a positive message at a candidate, your group can promote that candidate to all of its followers.  It also provides your followers a link to access that candidate’s twitter page so that they can check him/her out for themselves.  The organization should also tweet at other organizations that they want to promote.  To do this, simply type an “@” sign before the person or group’s twitter username (with no spaces) and then type the message before or after that.

  • STEP 6: #FOLLOWFRIDAY

There is a twitter trend on Fridays that allows people to promote others on twitter that they think their followers should also follow. It is called follow Friday.  If there are members of the group that are particularly good about updating twitter with information that would be relevant to the organization or the movement, you can tag them in follow Friday.  The follow Friday hashtag is either #ff or #followfriday.  A sample follow Friday tweet would look something like this, “@twitteruser1 @twitteruser2 @twitteruser3 @twitteruser4 @twitteruser5  are all on fire for the liberty movement! Check them out! #followfriday.”

  • LAST STEP: UPDATE FREQUENTLY

Make sure that you are updating your group’s twitter page on a regular basis, preferably multiple times a day.  Not everybody keeps twitter open on their computer or cell phone all day long (though some of us addicts might).  This is why updating frequently is so necessary.  The more frequently you update your group’s page, the more likely your tweets are to reach a broader group of your followers while they are checking twitter.

Please, don’t allow yourself to discount twitter as just another way to procrastinate online.  It can be an AMAZING tool for your liberty-minded organization if you simply take a little time out of your day to follow the steps I’ve outlined above.  And the best part is that it’s FREE!  We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  That may be true; but I’m here to tell you that there is such a thing as free advertising, and it’s called twitter!

“Checking in” or Campaigning?

On Wednesday, a particular CNN article caught my attention.  The article was about Gowalla (a social networking site based on location) releasing what they are calling a “campaign tool kit.” Gowalla has now made it easier for campaigns to engage their supporters, let them know what the campaign is doing, and allow supporters to reach out to their friends and other prospective supporters.

What is it?

Gowalla is a mobile application that allows users to check-in to their current location and then post it to their Facebook, Twitter, or both (much like Foursquare). I know what you are thinking, we are already live in a world where everyone has a Facebook, people “tweet” what they are doing in 140 characters or less, and now people feel it necessary to update their friends on their current location every time they go someplace new? If you are new to social networking, you can check out American Majority’s guides to Facebook and Twitter here.

Personally, I do not have a Gowalla or Foursquare (its competitor) account, but that is mostly because I do not think I go anywhere interesting enough to let other people know about. However, I think the opportunities that these social networking accounts give campaigns and candidates are definitely something that need to be taken advantage of on every level.

How can your campaign implement Gowalla?

With the new Gowalla campaign tool kit, campaigns can now create events on Gowalla, so that supporters can check in and receive a campaign stamp (with the candidate’s logo) to show their support. This is a new, specialized feature, because usually when you check into Gowalla, you are given some generic stamp for your virtual passport. This new feature is a great way to engage your supporters and get them excited about your campaign rally, fundraiser, or other event. It is also a way to identity supporters (kind of like Facebook advertising and Google ads) and to further develop/mainstream your brand and logo. If your campaign is wondering how to set up a successful event to post on Gowalla, check out this article about creating successful events.

Another feature of the new Gowalla campaign tool kit is the ability for constituents, volunteers, or supporters to check-in on Gowalla, then tweet or post their locationto Facebook or Twitter, encouraging their followers and friends to join them in participating in the event. This is important, because, even if someone isn’t supporting you on Facebook or following you on Twitter, maybe they are friends or are following someone who is. They will be able to see this update and then go get plugged in with you or your candidate’s campaign.

What if your candidate can’t make it to a campaign event, but your supporters still want to have one and get the word out? Gowalla allows for your supporters to register their own campaign events, without the candidate’s participation, and spread the word through Facebook and Twitter. Depending on the size of your campaign, you, or the candidate, aren’t going to be able to physically be at every event. You are going to have to rely on your volunteers to host events and get the word out. When your supporters check in, they will receive a stamp showing whether they are at a rally, town hall, or fundraiser – depending on the event. There is even a ballot box stamp ready for Election Day, when your supporters go to the ballot box and vote for you!

Don’t think that Gowalla’s campaign tool kit is for you? That’s fine, but be sure not to write-off Gowalla, Foursquare, or any other social networking website and the usefulness it will have for your campaign. We live in a world where just about everyone is getting a Facebook, more and more people are on Twitter, and having a smartphone is becoming a social norm.  The time for campaigns to adapt the ways they reach voters is now.

HOW TO: FACEBOOK PRIVACY SETTINGS

Here at American Majority it is one of our goals to educate activists on how to properly use online media.  During the presentation, Patriots 2.0, we attempt to teach the importance of getting actively involved in facebook, twitter, and other social networks.

After our Patriots 2.0 presentation, the questions come rolling in.  More often than not, the questions refer to facebook privacy settings.  Although, we spend an hour teaching the ins and outs of facebook it is difficult to go into depth on how to effectively establish your privacy settings.  For this reason I feel it is necessary to dig deeper and get down to the nitty gritty of facebook privacy.

According to the facebook page on facebook (that sounds silly), “Facebook has led the industry in giving people the tools to control the information they share and with whom they choose to share it. User privacy has always been a top priority for the company, which has worked with such organizations as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and WiredSafety. Facebook is TrustE certified. Users also have the ability to share and restrict information based on specific friends or friend lists.”  If their privacy settings are that great, let’s utilize them!

  • Step One: Go to your facebook page and click “Account” in the top right corner.   Then click “Privacy Settings” in the drop box.  A page such as the one below should pop up on your screen.

  • Step Two:  Click “View Setting” under the “Basic Directory Information” tab.  Here you can alter what others see when they search your name on facebook.  This is where you can stipulate who can search for you, add you as a friend, send you messages, and see your personal information.  Simply, click on the side tabs to change privacy settings.  Click “Preview My Profile” to see if your settings are to your liking.  This will show you the content that non-facebook friends see when they search your name.
  • Step Three: Click “Back to Privacy” to continue onto the next section, “Sharing on Facebook”.  Here you can manage which of your day-to-day activity can be viewed by others on facebook.  This includes photos, links, status updates, and the content others share on your wall.  Facebook recently installed a one touch privacy setting that gives you the option to allow only your friends to see the content of your page.  This can be done by clicking “Fiends Only”. You can also customize your privacy settings by clicking “Customize Settings” (wouldn’t you have guessed it).  To preview how your profile appears to specific individuals, click “Preview My Profile” and insert a friend’s name into the given blank at the top of the screen.

Click here for a slow-paced video that will take you through

a step-by-step guide to facebook privacy settings.

  • Step Four:   If you want to have various friends view your page differently from one another, you can utilize the list making tool.  Click “Account” in the top right corner, then “Edit Friends” in the drop box.  A page such as the one shown below will pop up on your screen.

  • Step Five: Click “Create New List” and type in a title for a certain group.  For example, lists can be titled: family, work, college friends, strict profile people, church friends, or whatever your little heart desires.  Once you have the group titled, go through your friend list to find those who fit into that specific group.  You can type their names into the given blank.  Once your list is complete, click “Create List”.  Repeat this for as many groups as you would like.
  • Step Six:  In order for a list to be able to view or be restricted from viewing certain parts of your facebook activity, go back to “Customize Settings” under “Privacy Settings”.  Click on the drop box for each setting and click “Customize”.   Then type in your list’s name to either hide or show your activity.  To ensure that you’ve performed these steps correctly, click “Preview My Profile” and type in a person’s name from that list.

As we all know, the creators of facebook are constantly working to make their site more user-friendly.   Unfortunately, this means that the layout of facebook changes on occasion.  This can be frustrating, but privacy settings are sticky.  Therefore, when the inevitable change occurs, your privacy settings will transfer accordingly.  However, it is always important to stay aware of your settings to ensure that everything transfers correctly.

If you are having trouble activating or navigating facebook

please see our Facebook Guide for Beginners.

All above information is correct as of 8-1-10

HOP ON THE SOCIAL NETWORKING TRAIN

After spending four years in college in the Public Relations department I have come to understand the ins and outs of sending press releases, PR planning, and the importance of networking.  Now that I am out of school and working for American Majority, I have tried many of the techniques I spent four years learning.

I now see that the most effective form of PR is networking.  This is great news!  We are now surrounded by free networking sites (facebook, twitter, youtube, ect.), and if we use these tools in the correct manner we will be able to gain free press and create a larger base of followers

In this blog I will describe, point by point, how to effectively network in this day and age.  I admit I am not a professional facebooker, but I do spend a LARGE amount of time on it.  For this reason, I would consider myself seriously educated in the school of social media.

  • PLAY ON THEIR COURT

When reaching out to certain people via social networks, find their preferred networking tool.  Look at a person’s online habits and how they spend their time.  Do they spend time on facebook or twitter?  Meet them where they are comfortable.

  • SHARE THE LOVE

If you want your blogs, posts, and events to reach the masses then make sure to help others do the same.  Social networking works as a spider web, where everyone is linked through each other.  The goal of reaching large amounts of people is more easily reached by having other networks aiding you.  This can be accomplished by sharing other’s links, “liking” posts, re-tweeting, and inviting your friends to their events.  Remember, if you scratch their back, they will scratch yours.

  • COMMUNICATE LIKE A HUMAN BEING, NOT A SALESMAN

There is a very fine line between networking and spamming.  When networking with others, make sure your message is genuine and person-specific.  Even if that means copying and pasting a person’s name into the title of your message; it’s better than a mass generic message.  I like to feel like the messenger took time to think of me, typed the message for me, and is waiting anxiously by their computer for my response.

  • BE TRUSTWORTHY

Naturally, people talk, and if you do not stay true to your word – the news spreads.  In social networking, word spreads as fast as you can click the “post” button.  These days, it is important to build trust within your networking group.  You can gain trust by sharing valid content, refraining from spam, and by putting time into each relationship (i.e. replying to facebook messages in a timely manner). 

  • DON’T OVERLOAD ON NONSENSE

We all have those friends on facebook and twitter who clog our newsfeeds.  If you are one of these people, odds are I have defriended you.   No, I don’t care that your bologna sandwich was yummy, I don’t care to see your daily pictures of yourself standing in front of the mirror, and I especially don’t care about your new acre of land that you acquired on Farmville.  I care about events you have attended, your professional interests, and your recommendations.  Therefore, when posting on social networking sites make sure your posts are significant and meaningful, or you might notice your friend list decreasing more and more with every “this sandwich is yummy” post.

  • KEEP THE DOOR OPEN, EVEN IF NO ONE IS WALKING THROUGH

Always keep up to date on your social networking sites.  If no one is taking interest in your posts, give it time.  If your content, posts, and comments are up-to-date, others will soon catch on and become followers.  The popularity of social media is growing and maybe a newcomer will take interest in what you’re saying.

It is essential to have a functioning online network has become essential for success and we should treat our online friends with the same respect we treat our physical friends.  If you are still confused on how to effectively use online media you should 1) attend an American Majority training near you or 2) check out our online media guides. Jump on that social media bandwagon and start networking!

Appealing to the younger generation

The success of a political party, organization, or candidate is greatly influenced by how they appeal to a young audience.  Unfortunately, it is something that followers and leaders in the liberty movement seem to be struggling with in comparison to those of the left.  Though you’ll never hear me say this in any other context but this – it’s time we take a small lesson from the left.  After suffering from the results of the 2008 elections, it’s time we, as conservative and liberty-minded individuals, make a serious effort to get online and make a change in the way we are perceived by the digital generation.

After analyzing some successful, yet liberal sites, it is easy to see that there are a few things the left is doing right, in terms of appealing to both the younger generation and those who frequent the internet:

Overall layout and visual appeal – When you ask anybody what first attracted them to their spouse, the smart ones will always say, “It was their personality.”  However, the cold hard truth is that most are first attracted to physical appearance.  Just as one doesn’t fall in love with someone’s personality at first site, individuals don’t fall in love with the content on a website at first site either. As much as we hate to admit it, looks do matter. Having an aesthetically pleasing color scheme and user-friendly layout can go a long way.

Social networking – Social networking sites are not solely being used for people to keep in touch with friends and family.  More and more they are being used as a search engine when trying to find out about candidates or organizations, especially by young audiences that want to be engaged in the political process.  They are becoming an essential part of the political process, and the left is using this to their advantage.  Not only do left leaning sites excel in making their content very easy to share on facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube, etc. via links on their site, but they seem to have a bigger active presence on facebook as well.  After searching through prominent left leaning organizations’ fan pages and groups, and comparing them to those of the liberty movement, it was easy to see that we have some work to do.  While some prominent conservative groups have fan pages with a few hundred members, many left leaning groups can boast numbers in the tens of thousands.  Don’t get me wrong – the liberty movement is making some fantastic strides; however, there is still much work to be done.

Extras – If you want to be able to influence the younger generation, you first have to understand them.  The left appears to fully understand this concept based on certain content that is offered on their websites.  Having been a college student during the 2008 presidential election, I saw first-hand the left’s success in influencing my peers.  It became trendy and fashionable for college students to walk around campus wearing t-shirts with a presidential candidate’s face on it and campaign buttons on their backpacks.  They did this by marketing it to an online audience. They understood the appeal of pop culture icons, for example the characters in the Twilight series.  (Which I believe to be a ridiculous craze) They used the commonly touted terminology “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” to formulate “Team Obama” t-shirts and bumper stickers.  They even used college mascots to reach students.  At a nearby university, t-shirts with the words “Rock Chalk Barack” sold like hotcakes and were worn to class constantly, which I assure you, influenced many more than just the students that bought them.  Anyone who has ever walked into a college dorm room knows posters are practically essential to a young person’s room decor.  The left, having marketed “Hope” posters during the election, was able to reach a plethora of young individuals with their message simply by making these products available on left-leaning websites.  It’s much easier to appeal to a group of individuals when you understand them, and the left understands.

I’m not saying that we need to copy the left or change our message to something that could be summed up on a trendy t-shirt.  Our message needs to stay consistent; however, we need to make it easier for a younger generation to get involved and feel engaged.  Though not all of the digital generation is able to make an immediate difference in terms of voting now, recruiting them to the movement as early as possible will help shape them into the kind of active citizens that will make a positive impact on their country.  Changing our online appeal will not only help the movement in appealing to the younger and politically active generation, but will also be an investment in our future.

“Nobody does it better!”

Well really, nobody else really comes close.  American Majority is in the unique position of being the premiere non-profit, non-partisan, conservative political training institute in the United States that offers what we offer; and, if I might go ahead and toot American Majority’s horn a bit, I’d contend we are the best at what we do: training conservatives to win.

So rather than take some time to pontificate on a platitude (as we tend to do sometimes on this blog), I would like to share some of the recent feedback we’ve been getting from folks in the field (and brag a bit too).

New Mexico State House candidate Tonia Harris has this to say:

Grassroots Leader Therese Cooper plans to become an implementer of freedom:

Former US Congressman Bill Redmond fully endorses American Majority’s “Precinct Power” strategy and wishes American Majority were around when he was running for congress!

New Mexico Conservative Summit Organizer Linda Merrell of Albuquerque, NM says:

I’ve attended seminars and trainings by the dozens, here and around the country.  When I told these people that no one does it better than American Majority, I meant it, and I have the experience to back up what I said.  I can’t thank you enough for coming here and sharing your knowledge with our New Mexico activists.

Seriously folks, I’d hate to sound conceited, but here at American Majority we’re for real about teaching conservatives to win!  Our political trainings, whether it’s for grassroots leaders or candidates vying for political office, are top-notch and cutting edge.

If you’re interested in bringing American Majority to your community, feel free to request a training!

Also, please take advantage of all the free resources we offer on our website under the Resources section.

In the esteemed words of Stanley Kirk Burrell or more widely known as “MC Hammer” – American Majority is…..

Continuing Campaign Education

At American Majority we work to give the best political training available to conservative activists and candidates. In the end it’s about fielding an army of conservatives who are more than just fluent in political buzz words…we want the men and women who come through our training to be stronger campaign volunteers, empowered activists and winning candidates.

Part of that kind of training is giving continuing resources for education after our training sessions have ended. We do this by giving trainees access to presentations, manuals, podcastsvideo tutorials, pamphlets, guides and other materials through our website but we’ve also found other resources that can help you in strengthening your campaign education.

Killer Campaigning: Phil Van Treuren has been involved with politics for a long time. He’s worn the hat of beat reporter, political consultant, campaign volunteer and local candidate. He currently serves as a City Councilman in Amherst, OH and does a great job blogging about running for local office. He also did a guest post for ArtOfManliness.com that gives some great tips on seeking public office.

ePolitics.com: Their slogan is “Disscecting The Craft of Online Political Advocacy.” ePolitics does a great job of providing tips on how to use online tools to enhance your campaign and political impact in general. One of my favorite posts they’ve done recently is, “Nine Things Campaigns Shouldn’t Forget in the Gee-Whiz World of the Social web.” Check it out!

TechPresident.com is a “cross-partisan” forum where a large number of veteran campaign operatives share knowledge about how technology is influencing our electoral process and politics in general. They crunch a lot of data and provide cool graphs like this one, tracking top politicians and their number of facebook followers.

Mashable.com probably doesn’t rank on most folks’ list of sites for politicos to follow but there’s no excuse for leaving it off of yours. Social media and web-based campaigning are facts of life in today’s political world and Mashable is the place to go to find out the newest ways to use the web and social tools. They’ve also got some pretty cool techno-geek articles.

Majority Connections‘ is to help conservatives understand how to use new media and social networking platforms to reach new followers, engage their activists, and create online movements. Their blog gives fantastic tips on how to engage more effectively with online activists and strengthen your campaign.

Seth Godin is one of the few people who can truly be considered a new-media guru. He’s pioneered social media use  and his blog is a must-read. His book Tribes is what hooked me on social media in general and Twitter specifically.

All of these sites are on my bookmarks bar and I recommend that you put them there too!

Leave a comment and share your favorite sites with campaign tips!

Focus Local: Finding Your Blogging Niche

One of the main areas that I help train in for American Majority is New Media…which loosely translates into: Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare…etc. I believe that if we’re going to make a tangible impact on this country that we are going to take the fight to where not only the liberals are but where we can touch a large number of individuals who are engaged. In today’s online world it’s very clear that those mediums are the modern political battlefields.

One of the first questions that comes up when I’m talking to people about starting a blog is, “What should I write about?” That’s when I reach back into my college economics vocabulary and pull out: Comparative Advantage. Basically, comparative advantage is someone’s ability to create something or do a task with greater efficiency or at a higher quality than another person. So, when I’m asked that question about writing topics I ask people what they can do that others can’t or arn’t: Where is your comparative advantage?

My point is this, if you are going to write a blog you need to be able to give a compelling reason why people should read yours instead of the 100 million + other blogs that are out there. I don’t recommend that people dedicate their blog to writing mainly about national issues because millions of other folks already do. Pick something that you are familiar with and become an expert!

I’m convinced that the best way for new bloggers to have a significant impact for liberty is to focus on local politics: county, city and school government. These are facets of government which are covered less and less by traditional media and where an appalling amount of our dollars get wasted.

You’d be surprised how few cities have any kind of blog, let alone a conservative one, dedicated to keeping an eye on what local officials are doing. We need those kinds of local watchdogs in order to hold our elected officials accountable.

Starting a blog dedicated to local politics doesn’t take much time or resources: Find some friends that are also concerned about local politics and begin taking turns attending city council and school board meetings. Let the officials know that you are there to write about what they are doing and be congenial. Get hooked up with Twitter (read our Guide to Twitter Activism here) and tweet live during the meeting. Then, when you get home, write up a summary of what happened and your opinion to post on the blog.

Over time you will become an indispensable resource for your locality and conservatives in your area that want to hold their government accountable. By keeping your focus local you can find your blog’s niche and capitalize on your comparative advantage.

Facebook Privacy Video 2: Settings

This is the second video in a two-part series on Facebook privacy settings. The video series was designed to compliment our Facebook Beginner’s Guide. To view video one, click here.



Facebook Privacy Video 1: Friends Lists

This is the first video in a two-part series on Facebook privacy settings. The video series was designed to compliment our Facebook Beginner’s Guide. To view video two, click here.



Page 1 of 212