After a MySpace page supporting Barack Obama’s run for presidency – and created under his name, which is quite common for supporter or fan pages – became too popular, Obama’s campaign office took control of the page:
The page was originally created by 29 year old Joe Anthony. Anthony first created the profile after hearing Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. After Obama officially announced his intent to run, his campaign worked with Anthony in terms of providing content and sharing access to the friend list that has outpaced all other candidates at 160,000 members. But in recent months, as the site exploded in popularity, the campaign became concerned about an outsider controlling the content and the responses going out under Senator Obama’s name. As Anthony increased the time he was devoting to the page he eventually asked for compensation. The Obama campaign decided not to pay the $39,000 Anthony proposed for his work on the site, along with additional fees of up to $10,000.
(politicsonline.com, May 3, 2007)
Understandably, campaigners want control over their candidate’s public image, particularly in politically sensitive areas. However, if the last few years have taught us anything, then it’s this: Learn to let go. Learn not to enforce control, and learn to trust in your supporters.
This is what led to the initial success of Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004 (which was eclipsed by the other candidates’ taking over important parts of his campaign strategy), it’s what marketing and PR experts are starting to recognize, it was a key element in the German Social Democrats (SPD) campaign strategy during the 2005 elections: Letting go, loosening control. Fostering, and trusting in your community. Giving your community social media tools like weblogs or social networking sites, and letting them play around with them, use them, hack them. They are your supporters, you want them to support you. So it’s just fair you let them play by their own rules, right?