Case Study: New Media in the Jerry Brown for Governor Campaign How California’s Governor‐Elect Successfully Reached Voters Through Digital Channels
SITUATION Jerry Brown faced an opponent whose unlimited resources extended to her new media eﬀorts. It seemed she was willing to pour as much money as possible into her online programs—no website went without a banner ad, no Google search item without a sponsored result.
CHALLENGE Using limited resources and an even more limited new media budget, how would the campaign engage Jerry Brown’s supporters and spread his messages through the digital space… without being hammered by opposiOon noise?
SOLUTION Take advantage of free tools and creaOve means to bring Jerry’s disOnct personality and years of experience to life online.
Jerry’s Facebook page acted as a hub for fans to hear campaign news, share media, read short messages from the candidate, and interact with one other.
Widgets like badges, donated statuses, and polls kept users engaged, allowed them to publicly express their support, and introduced others in their networks to Jerry.
Those who already didn’t “like” Jerry automaOcally redirected to a video introducing them to the candidate. Users could also click the “Vote Jerry” tab to sign up to help the campaign eﬀorts directly.
The “SoluOons” tab showed users Jerry’s plans for California without leaving Facebook. Speciﬁc demographics and interest groups formed individual pages, featured on Jerry’s main page—everyone from Moms to Students to Republicans for Jerry Brown.
CreaOng Facebook event pages for upcoming campaign events and volunteer opportuniOes generated excitement among supporters, who could RSVP, ﬁnd important informaOon, and interact on the event wall.
Photo galleries of campaign stops and other behind‐the‐scenes imagery lived on the “Photos” tab. Users were encouraged to post their own pictures to Jerry’s wall that answered the quesOon, “How do YOU say Jerry?”
Without any paid adverOsing whatsoever, these tacOcs helped Jerry organically generate more than one hundred thousand Facebook fans.
Jerry generated more than one million followers on Twi[er. Always privy to emerging trends, he visited the Twi[er headquarters early on in his campaign, resulOng in his addiOon to the “suggested users” list. InteracOng with other Twi[er users enhanced the experience for his followers.
Jerry’s Twi[er account was so unique, it a[racted the a[enOon of the Los Angeles Times, which encouraged its readers to visit his proﬁle. Certain tweets were also read during news casts.
Jerry’s Flickr account visually chronicled a mix of campaign happenings, volunteer work in the ﬁeld, and fun imagery from Jerry’s past. Users were encouraged to submit their own photos to Jerry’s Flickr stream by uploading and tagging their pictures “jerrybrown2010.” Images were a downloadable resource for anyone who wanted them.
The design contest was a collaboraOve and a[enOon‐ garnering use of social media and Flickr. ArOsts were encouraged to submit designs for a new campaign logo by uploading and tagging their submissions on Flickr. Users then voted on their favorite. The winning graphic was sold as a t‐shirt in Jerry’s online store and used in various pieces of campaign collateral.
Jerry’s YouTube account housed a collecOon of viral videos, including ﬁrst‐releases of every TV commercial. We cross‐promoted videos on all other social media channels and in press releases. Due to easy sharing and enabled commenOng, our “Meg Whitman: Why I came to California” commercial earned close to 500,000 views—unprecedented for an online campaign ad.
A series of “Social Media Webisodes” were also seeded on the YouTube page as a resource. The two‐minute long episodes taught Jerry’s support base how to best use online tools available to them to help the campaign eﬀorts.
The campaign blog provided an arena to showcase Jerry’s eﬀorts through an authenOc, inside voice disOnguished from press releases. Its large readership regularly commented on posts, which were published at least once a day and ranged from volunteer opportuniOes to policy breakdowns to stories from the campaign trail.
Blog posts extended to The Huﬃngton Post, so our message spread to a wider audience than Jerry Brown supporters. Our new media team maintained a good relaOonship with other prominent bloggers, who ocen reached out to the campaign for resources.
One of the things that disOnguished Jerry from his opponent was her conOnuous disregard for the truth. To chronicle this, the campaign created Meg‐a‐Myths, a website that kept track of and debunked the lies told. We built the whole site using Wordpress, an inexpensive and easy pladorm.
Meg‐a‐Myths quickly evolved from a website into its own brand. Users could follow Meg‐a‐Myths on Twi[er and fan it on Facebook. Readers submi[ed their own myths and signed up for the “truly perplexing Myth Mail.” Meg‐a‐Myths ﬂip ﬂops even sold in Jerry’s online store.
Those interested in acOvely helping with the campaign eﬀorts were encouraged to create a proﬁle on my.jerrybrown.org, our online volunteer network. My.jerrybrown.org users could connect with one another, create groups for local supporters in their area, plan events, and set up their own personal fundraising pages.
Throughout the campaign, we steadily gained supporters through email subscripOons, ending up with a list of 430,000. In an eﬀort to gain more subscribers and donaOons, email blasts were mirrored on Facebook and Twi[er. We surpassed our online fundraising goal, earning $2.8 million in digital donaOons.
Social media accounts centralized on Jerry’s campaign homepage, jerrybrown.org. Visitors could easily access his various proﬁles and connect directly from one simple online hub (we even linked Jerry’s MySpace and LinkedIn proﬁles). Users could also connect with their Facebook and Twi[er accounts to “like” and tweet content directly from jerrybrown.org.
CONCLUSION By taking advantage of free or inexpensive tools and bringing Jerry to life through his digital channels, the online audience experienced not only a candidate, but a real person. AuthenOcity and creaOvity were a winning combinaOon— not only on the Internet, but also in the voOng booth.