Turning Alabama Blue – Segall2008.com – Viable democrat running in Alabama. Watch his intro-video and join us!”he political season offers many opportunities for exploring how candidates are using social media in their campaigns. I didn’t think I’d find many (if any) examples in the Alabama races this year. Then, a Google ad popped up in my mail reader: “
Given the state of our nation, there is an article with some speculation that Democrats may pick up as many as three seats in November – Alabama Democrats eyeing delegation majority. I’m not really into politics, so I won’t speculate. Also, I have written about our alumnae, Shea Snider, who is Roger’s press secretary (the incumbent in the race). So, I don’t need to get into the politics … because, well – we love Shea. She is the best, ya’ know.
It is fair to point out a look at Open Secrets, showing Rogers more than doubling Segall’s campaign contributions. More on the myriad of sites with this type of information, below.
My Focus Here
What interests me is the possible use of social media by Alabama candidates. Segall may well be the only one with even a modest blogger outreach.
Let’s look at his site, Segall2008. Now, before some folks go and get their noses out of joint, I frequently do these types of site reviews and share them with my students. So, no harm intended.
- First up, he uses a splash page at the front of the site. Not necessarily a good idea. Yes, he seems to be seeking a major strategic goal by capturing email address first, but why make people click one more time. Seriously, splash pages are considered to be bad Web design by many, if not most. The only other option is “Skip to Website.” While the “Skip to Website” option is in the ‘golden mean’ area of the page, the color choice for the text doesn’t pop out. Would yellow or white be a better color choice? To me, it seems just a bit lost on the page. It would be interesting to know if their strategy is working re: gathering email addresses. How many do they have? (Resources for golden mean: The Golden Section, Design and the Divine Proportion, Mundi Design’s Principles of Graphic Design, go to 3d for the golden mean.)
- Segall went outside of Alabama for his Web site development. He went to CDPolitical.com which is part of Chong Designs. Where is Chong Designs? Well, Washington, D.C. – of course.
- I have to question the online savvy of this move. First off, people here in Alabama are quite unhappy when folks go outside the state. Anyone want to speculate on the expense incurred by Segall with Chong Designs?
- Also, I really think Segall would have been better served by using Ning.com and letting eager supporters in Alabama help drive the site. There isn’t a great deal of interaction taking place in the Segall site.
- What would that Ning.com site cost? Less than $35 a month … and it offers so much more than his site has for visitors. It would even help him capture those email addresses and involve the volunteers in discussions.
- Look at the video presentation on the Segall Google ad site. The video is a YouTube embed and not well presented. It has a single sliver of a black area on the right side and large one on the top. I mean really, this is poor. I would make my students re-do such a video presentation.
I really think Josh Segall could have done a better job of incorporating social media into his site, but have to give him credit for at least trying. (Click image below to enlarge.)
When you get to that page, you’ll see that the campaign is asking the following: “Please tell us about your blog. (Traffic, topics of interest, your audience, and anything else you think we should know.)” So far, he is getting some blog pickup. This Google blog search reveals 236 blog posts with “Josh Segall” in the copy (236 to-date).
Overall, I’d give the site a C+ because it is just above average overall, and it barely dips one toe into the social media arena. At least he’s paying some attention to blogs. Maybe I’ll try to get an interview with the candidate or someone on his staff and see what their strategy is re: social media.
By the way, Rogers does have a campaign site, too. He has video on his front page and it is a much better presentation. The site is Mike Rogers for Congress.com. It is quite a static site with little more than the basics like: volunteer contact forms, ways to write a letter to the editor and the usual sundry online tactics. So, that’s why I didn’t focus on it re: social media.
Neither candidate links to their Facebook sites, for instance, so it seems they are not really sold on the idea of using social media in their campaigns. Finally, regarding video use, both candidates are simply regurgitating their TV ads, so there is no creative use of online video going on here.
An interesting sidebar to all this, Josh Segall is an Ivy League graduate. Yep, he went to Brown University (University Web Site). All we see is Segall’s focus on his law degree from the University of Alabama. That’s understandable, of course, as voters down here don’t necessarily take a likin’ to them there Ivy League fellers. Rogers, on the other hand, went to Jacksonville State University. JSU resides in his district. Both candidates are lawyers: Rogers attended Birmingham School of Law and Segall attended The University of Alabama School of Law.
Other Aspects of Online Political Campaigns
On another front, it is interesting to see how much information there is out there regarding candidates, their campaigns and their campaign finances. Below is a list of sites I found during my search.
- AL-03: Josh Segall Outraises Rogers for the Second Quarter is the report from “Left in Alabama.” Yet, they fail to point out that Rogers has much more in his war chest.
- Segall Holds His Own in 2Q Fundraising from the Progressive Electorate. Again, no mention of the overall totals for each candidate.
- “He Stood up To His own Party” : New Republican Mantra from a diary within Daily Kos, not Kos himself, by someone calling themselves alpolitics – also the author of the Progressive Electorate, above.
- Open Secrets tally of the money raised and spent by both Segall and Rogers. There we get the broader story that Rogers had $948,940 cash on hand while Segall had $209,114 – as of May 14th and a lot has happened since then. Who knows where they both are now.
- Open Secrets page for all Alabama races.
- NewsMeat listing of all contributors to Segall by last name.
- NewsMeat listing of all contributors to Rogers by last name.
- Josh Segall’s SEA listing re: his views on science issues. SEA is the Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational organization. Segall has nothing on file.
- Mike Rogers SEA CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE has been filled out.
- Josh Segall’s ActBlue page. ActBlue claims to be “the nation’s largest source of funds for Democrats.” (Source)
- Open Secrets info on Mike Rogers’ personal finances. He’s a millionaire.
- I could not find similar information about Joshua Segall in OpenSecrets.org. Perhaps their files are not up-to-date, or they only track that kind of information for incumbents? Don’t know, for sure.
My students will get a kick out of knowing that Segall used a free Web template site for his first site, JoshuaSegall.com, which has been since replaced by his Segall2008.com site. The site he used for his template is gorotron.com, of all places.
Segall is in Facebook with a fan page touting 116 supporters, to-date. Update: Thanks to the anonymous comment below, I did another search for “Joshua Segall for Congress, as the comment states, and did find yet another group. So, there are two groups for Segall on Facebook. I must admit, I missed the second group in my previous search. Can’t remember what I used for the search, so I can’t tell you why. This search for Josh Segall gives both groups in the results. This search for Joshua Segall also reveals both groups. So, my apologies for missing the second group.
Mike Rogers is there, too. His fan page has 581 supporters, so he’s way ahead of Segall in that regard. Update: Yep, the anonymous comment below is correct. I used the wrong Rogers page. Mike Rogers has a page in Facebook, but not a group. And, there are no friends listed on that page. So, Segall is ahead on that mark.
I only found one Joshua Segall and two Josh Segalls in MySpace and neither is the candidate. Mike Rogers wasn’t there, either.
There is a Rep. Mike Rogers account in Twitter, but has no updates. I could not find a Joshua Segall.
So, that’s my look at one race and their use of emerging digital media. I guess I’m not surprised at the lack of social media use by Alabama candidates. I still get some deer in headlight looks when I mention it down here.