Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facebook VP talks about social media and political campaigns

Joe Lockhart, right, speaking at the Politico Playbook Breakfast Wednesday. Photo by Jen Rothacker
Joe Lockhart, vice president of corporate communications at Facebook, stopped by the Politico/Charlotte Observer Playbook Breakfast at Packard Place Wednesday morning.

Lockhart, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton, spoke about the influence social media has on political campaigns.

When asked to describe what he expects a political convention to look like in 2024, Lockhart said he expected it to be shorter and more connected.

"I'd expect it will be much more interactive, much more virtual," he said.

Lockhart also said he believed social media is changing the way political campaigns are crafting messages. He told a story about walking into President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters and seeing dozens of workers. He assumed they were fundraisers or field workers. He was wrong. Eighty percent were social media and digital content creators, he said.

Lockhart believes the focus on creating individualized and interactive content on platforms like Facebook and Twitter will slowly push out standard campaign ads.

"Rather than broadcast a focus-grouped 30-second ad that you spent most of your money on ... it's very personal," he said.

Lockhart said social media first started affecting national politics with the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, where Dean was able to collect small donations from around the country to fund his campaign.

The Obama campaign took advantage of social media in the 2008 election. Lockhart compared it to when direct mail campaigning took off in the 1980s.

"I think 2008 was really when social took hold," he said.

Social media gives people a place to have conversations and react to political campaigns, he said, like they did on Facebook after First Lady Michelle Obama's speech Tuesday night.

"I don't know what they're talking about, but they're talking about it," he said.

-Corey Inscoe

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