YouTube joins social networking in influencing the American Campaign.
YouTube has been seen to hold a significant role in the modern American campaign. It provides official and unofficial content on a popular media platform that is easy to access and easy to share. YouTube allows any source, to have potential in today’s technological environment to shape the course of the campaign and potentially politics overall.
By placing official content online it allows for a reinforcement of message. The campaigns also see YouTube as free advertising. Obama’s official campaign videos collected more than 14.5 million hours of viewing. “To buy 14.5 million hours on broadcast TV is $47 million.” (Trippi) Clips can be viewed multiple times, and in the audiences own time, rather than television ads which are seen to interrupt viewing time. Moreover, they have to be sought out or sent to by a friend, which increases the idea and feeling of involvement.
Zac Moffatt (Romney campaign digital director) feels that YouTube has “found a niche in politics” because of its ability to translate a message visually and quickly. Obama’s The Road We’ve Traveled,” is on a new YouTube platform that turns watching the documentary into an assertive participation though support and fund-raising with links to Facebook and Twitter without having to leave the Obama page.
Top viewing sites during the 2008 campaign included the video with the returned Iraq veteran’s address to Obama: “Dear Mr Obama having spent 12 months in Iraq theatre I can promise you it’s not a mistake.” The clip which has been viewed more 11 million times is a perfect example of how the public used YouTube to respond to the campaign. Citizen Kate is another example of the public getting involved with the campaign through YouTube. Obama Girl is another highly viewed channel, and less serious and more comical but still expresses public concepts of the campaign process. However, even these unofficial contributions affect the followings of the campaigns.
Public involvement has also come with the production of content mixed with pop culture. The remix of Obama’s speeches “Yes We Can” combined official policies with pop icons. There are numerous examples. They are readily and easily consumed by the public. It is this less serious content in an alternative public sphere that draws in different audiences, but inadvertently added them to the campaign. It provides other modes of entry to involvement with the political campaign to the official videos.
Either way, official or unofficial, serious or light-hearted, the use of YouTube has spread the American campaign across the nation easily and has provided a source of national involvement, as well as leaking into foreign shores.