There is plenty of evidence to indicate that social media does have influence on not only the opinions but also the actions of others.
The recently-completed New Media, New Influencers and Implications for the PR Profession study from the Society for New Communications Research think-tank (disclosure: I’m an advisory board member) provides some credible new information on how influence patterns are changing and how communication professionals are addressing those changes.
Influence patterns are indeed changing and nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of politics in the USA.
The US is the home of political bloggers and anyone with an opinion about American politics is also in full swing.
Which makes it all the more interesting for the implications it has on the future of influence and who wields it.
Michael Arrington, founder of the TechCrunch group of tech-oriented blogs, has started TechCrunch Tech President Primaries, a new blog that could have a significant impact on shaping the opinion (and, so, actions) of some voters:
[…] We no longer live in an industrial economy – the future is information and the Internet. Our president must carefully consider her or his policies on key tech issues, something they’ve never really had to do before. What is their position on net neutrality? How will they bridge the digital divide? How do we handle technology sales to China and other countries using that technology to perpetrate human rights abuses? Should the Internet be taxed? How do we curb identity theft on the Internet? What is the future of intellectual property protection? How do we handle immigration issues for tech workers? How do we catch up with the rest of the world in the mobile Internet space? And what will we do to encourage research and productization in renewable energy?
These are issues that get little attention from mainstream press (with the exception of renewable energy policies), but we think that they deserve to be considered as part of this election. Technology workers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere tend to donate a lot of money and time to campaigns, and they are more frequent voters than the average citizen. The candidate’s positions on technology and related issues impact how they spend their time, money and votes.
Powerful objectives – and Arrington could pull them off.
Check out the primaries blog and you’ll see there’s already a wealth of information about all the main candidates’ positions on those issues Arrington talks about.
Arrington has already appeared on prime-time US television in the past few days to explain what he’s trying to achieve (massive exposure for TechCrunch).
Look at the main TechCrunch blog and you’ll see transcripts from interviews with those presidential candidates. And there’s more to come.
Could Arrington and TechCrunch influence the course of American politics?
- Mainstream influencers like Wired magazine and the Wall Street Journal rate Michael Arrington very highly indeed.
- TechCrunch is consistently in the list of the top 10 most popular blogs in the world.
- As of today, there are more than 614,000 subscribers to the blog’s RSS feed. That’s more than the circulation – and even readership – of some mainstream media.
I think Arrington’s direct entry into the world of political influence just changed the game, probably forever.