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A karaniwang tao’s view on the 2013 online electoral campaign so far

I recently participated in the #RapplerDebate Hangout last Saturday to discuss the social media campaign trail so far in the Philippines’ 2013 elections, representing Team Teddy Casino. The connection was quite bad where we held the live chat, so I wasn’t able to effectively participate in the discussion. They did gave us guide questions, though, and here’s my answers to their questions.

My-Shirt-in-Rappler-GHangout

My finest moment in the Hangout — showing off my shirt to the viewing public.

  1. Campaigns in the world of Twitter and Facebook
    • Is it different?
      Social networks are extensions of our social spheres. Campaigning online is thus essentially no different with how activists engage, organize and mobilize in the real world: we promote our advocacies, we explain our positions on issues, and we invite them to both online and offline activities.
      What new media brought into the equation is the access – with the right strategy, there is now the potential to reach 25 to 30 million Filipinos across socio-economic classes without the barriers of distance and geography.On the other hand, there are unique limitations to digital campaigning: despite recently being touted by the United Nations as a human right, internet access is still severely limited by high prices of internet rates, slow speed, and its concentration in urban areas.
    • Is it a priority? How much time and effort is spent on social media?
      It is an integral component of our electoral campaign, but it is not the priority. An obvious reason is that traditional media still has the overwhelmingly greatest reach in the playing field. But to progressive political activists, the electoral fight isn’t a mere race to sweep votes, we’re also looking into getting solid votes that will translate into commitment for social action beyond the election period.

      So while it is not the priority strategy to win the electoral campaign, our new media campaign is of much importance as it is a venue to saturate a captured online audience with sustained political education at a very low cost.We have a small team of multi-taskers who are focused on ensuring the spread of high-quality content that will help Filipino citizens to understand better and even encourage them to participate in our advocacies.

      Our work flow allows us to fully campaign during the peak online hours of peak week days, while formulating and creating content during its off-peak hours. We call Saturdays and Sundays weekends but we’re usually using it to do weekly assessments and plannings.

    • Why spend that much time?
      It is an opportunity to solidly educate and organize our ever expanding supporter base to help them understand the structural roots of the problems of mass poverty, corruption, lack of social services, and the destruction of our environment that our country faces.
      Hindi tulad ng mga trapo na kailangan lang ang atensyon at suporta ng mamamayan tuwing eleksyon, sinisikap namin makabuklod sila sa buong panahon naming pagkilos.
  1. Online vs on ground
    • How different is engagement online and in real life?
      Netizens are more opinionated, and why not: they are exposed to a barrage of information and insights. The more active ones are also more influential to their own social spheres. Unfortunately, there is still a persisting culture of slacktivism – that is, online advocacy that doesn’t translate into real-world actions – which has to be addressed by our online campaigners. To be able to tap netizens for campaigning especially for activities in real life contributes greatly to Teddy’s run for a politics of change.

    • Limitations of social media: only a certain class can be reached. How do you balance that out?
      We try to mobilize online supporters to campaign in their own social spheres – or to link up directly with our party chapters in every province. That’s the basic problem we try to address: ensuring the vote conversions aren’t limited to the individuals we directly reached online, but to access their own networks as well.

  2. Tales from the campaign trail
    • What issues have you come across online?Well, of course we face the usual vilification of the Left. In fact, we regularly experience what seems to be “operations” by hardcore militarists who throw the usual tirades of anti-communism and evangelize AFP modernization. The standard practice: discern trolls from truth-seekers, ignore the former, enlighten the latter, and regulate the unruly.

    • Any social media booboos so far? Lessons from those?
      One of our campaigners got into a tweet war with a journalist. And the incident was still being milked long after the apologies have been expressed and accepted. Then of course, there have been little mistakes such as typos, mistweets, etc. But its natural when the team is composed of volunteer activists and advocates – the campaign, after all, is the fight of the karaniwang tao for the karaniwang tao. Tao lang, nagkakamali din.

      But so far, we have made the editorial of our content and engagements tighter. Teddy’s consistently among the top 12 most engaging candidates. Nothing resonates more with the people than words that are sincere, earnest, and correct in articulating the problems our nation faces and in answering them comprehensive solutions.

    • Has social media and the Internet made campaigning easier or harder?
      It has indeed given opportunities for the champions of new politics to get the message across, but it is also replete with its own limitations and problems. The willingness of advocates to maximize all these new tools and venues for social change available to us is what will decide if it will be easier or harder.

  3. Moving forward: the road to 2016
    • Internet, social media, mobile device use will only boom in the following years. How do you think this will affect campaigns 3 years from now?
      Social media, like all scientific and technological advances, can be equally wielded both by those who seek change and those who maintain the status quo. Let us make sure that the people have the initiative to use these to their advantage.

  4. Parting messages from each campaign
    To our fellow netizens, the 2013 elections presents to us a unique opportunity to have our very own, a karaniwang tao, and a netizen through and through, in the Senate. We deserve to have our voice represented and heard echoing ever stronger in Congress. Ipanalo natin ang Karaniwang Tao, Teddy Casiño po sa Senado.

If you want to see the entire Hangout to see what the other social media operators (with much better connections) had to say, you can watch it here:

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