I had a good laugh at the lede for an article in the New Ulm Journal, Hagedorn uses the Internet:
If Internet campaigning, like President Obama used in his 2008 campaign, is the way to go, then Republican Jim Hagedorn, who is seeking his party's endorsement to take on incumbent Democrat Congressman Tim Walz in Minnesota's First Congressional District race in November, must have a leg up on his competition with his aggressive E-Newsletter campaigning.
Staff writer Ron Larsen must have mistaken aggression toward Hagedorn's fellow Republicans for effectiveness, because there's little in Hagedorn's "internet campaigning" that resembles Obama's highly effective social media strategy.
With the possible exception of Frank McKinzie, all of the candidates are using email. It's been a staple of professional campaigns for a decade.
But online campaigning is much more sophisticated than email, however mean the messages in those email may be.
Zillions of megapixels have been burned delving into the Obama campaign's social media strategy; one typical and very basic introduction is found in the readwriteweb's short posts Obama's Social Media Advantage and Obama's Social Media Advantage, Act II, which compare the Obama and McCain use of Twitter and MySpace. Google a bit, and readers can find plenty of reading to suit their curiosity.
MySpace isn't playing much of a role in 2010 campaigns, but candidate are turning to twitter, YouTube and Facebook in the First. So how is Hagedorn doing at that?
His web site provide icons linking to twitter and Facebook. Hagedorn isn't following anyone on twitter, and has picked up 16 followers with the 19 tweets posted since December 2; he's not on any lists. The content is mixed between personal and campaign material.
On Facebook, he's picked up 118 fans; the page is mostly a link farm to campaign publications. A few comments have been added by fans, but there's little sense of engagement. (Hagedorn has an active YouTube channel with more material, but it's not accessible from his front page, and much of the content is of the other candidates speaking).
Late comer Jim Engstrand's page includes icons for twitter and Facebook. Engstrand is following 10 tweeps, but only has 3 followers. Most of those being followed are from outside Minnesota; two of the followers are from First. Two people appear to be tweeting from the account: Engstrand and his campaign manager Cynthia (Newman) Werner. The account isn't on any lists.
Despite entering the endorsement race in late January, at 127 people Engstrand page has nine more fans than Hagedorn, though the level of fan interaction is about the same: virtually nil. It's mostly a link farm to calender events and campaign media.
Demmer For Congress also links to twitter and Facebook. Like Hagedorn, Demmer isn't following anyone on twitter; he has, however, picked up 62 followers and is included in 6 lists. On Facebook, the Hayfield Republican has picked up 192 fans and his posts include links to campaign materials and genial status updates. More fans interact on the page as well, "liking" posts and occasionally commenting. Demmer's page also includes an icon linked to the campaign's YouTube channel.
Allen Quist for Congress includes icons for twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and his web master has included a widget for Quist's Facebook page on the campaign site's front page. Quist follows two Mankato media organizations, while he has 72 followers; the account has tweeted 19 times. There's only one YouTube up.
Quist's Facebook fan base towers over that of his competitors, with 696 fans. While Quist may be the oldest major candidate in the field, his campaign is hooked in to the Facebook phenomenon, and the list of fans reads like a Who's Who of conservative activists in the First (I'm not so sure of that Russell Hess guy, though). Though the page is set so that one has to click open feedback, Quists does get more "likes" and comments, even though the site is mostly links to press releases and other campaign material.
Does Hagedorn have a more net-savvy strategy than his competition?
Hardly. He's certainly more critical of his rivals online, but his campaign doesn't attract online followers or fans. Did the New Ulm Journal's reporter even ask himself what "internet campaigning" meant--or did Hagedorn pitch his email attacks on other Republicans as the thing all the cool kids are doing these days?