Whatever our political persuasions, we can all agree on this: Social media has forever changed the business of politics. Exhibit A: the GOP convention and social media in Tampa.
The Republican National Convention is live-streaming all events through Google. If you have an Internet connection or Wi-Fi access, you’ve got a ticket to the front row! The Democratic National Convention plans to follow suit.
Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are making it possible to stay connected to your party of choice, and know what is going on behind those forbidding barricades and door guards. For example, a digital “green room” near the GOP convention stage in Tampa allows a speaker to Skype-interview, blog and tweet as soon as they get offstage.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be politics if it wasn’t competitive – and this election is pivotal. Both the DNC and the RNC are trying to be as accessible as possible to voters. Both, of course, claim their conventions will be the most accessible in history, opening up the political process to anyone with a connection. Of course, that is a win-win for social media in Tampa!
And whether you follow politics or not, you will benefit from the events taking place here: AT&T has invested $140 million in permanent upgrades to the area. New network infrastructure capabilities put into place for the occasion can handle an astonishing 37.5 million tweets per second, according to several sources.
And the Winner is…Twitter!
Just in time for the delayed start of the GOP convention, Twitter unveiled pages that track mentions of the conventions in real time – #GOP2012. For the Democrats convening in Charlotte, it’s #DNC2012.
Here in Tampa, tweets have provided the perfect platform for minute-by-minute accounts of what’s going on inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Perhaps you have to be hardcore to appreciate this feature, but hashtag-focused events open the door to endless dissection of strategy, speakers, protests and – sure! – all the A-list events and celeb-sighting opportunities.
The Republican National Convention here in Tampa Bay, and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, are providing unlimited fixes of instant information for political junkies nationwide. These events are tightly scripted, so Twitter is the most natural medium for getting a peek behind the curtains in real time. It has also served as a virtual walkie-talkie for the 15,000 protestors in the bay area.
These are set up for both political conventions, but have proven exceptionally handy for the GOP: The threat of Tropical Storm Isaac postponed the start of the festivities, lineups were changed, and participants were far-flung. Apps have made it easier for participants to track schedules and locations.
Have you checked out your party’s Facebook pages? By laptop or app, you can check in whenever it’s handy for you. Both parties want you to “Like” their convention pages. “Photo Spots” at both conventions allow convention-goers to upload pictures to their timelines within moments.
Google Plus did not exist in the last presidential election cycle, but this year it will take center stage: Its “Google Hangouts” at the company’s display areas allow video chats with speakers, lawmakers, pundits and anyone who stops by.
Social media in Tampa is considered a critical part of the political agenda because our area is Ground Zero of the biggest swing state in the nation. Social media will undoubtedly make the political process more accessible for those who choose to plug in. Who knows, it may lure more people to the voting booth in November.
The fact is, too, that fewer and fewer people want to be glued to the (physical) TV, or wait until 6 o’clock to catch an update on the convention. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Nielsen ratings for convention coverage on broadcast TV have rapidly declined since 1980.
Social media in Tampa is filling the void – and creating a much more interactive process for so many – and isn’t that what American politics is all about?
*Picture from swampland.time.com
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