Checking In to the Campaign Season

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The way political communication happens is constantly evolving, especially now that social media has become such a major part of the game. As one of the most popular ways to spread a message to a broad audience, social media — and, by extension, location-based marketing (LBM) — can have an even bigger impact on political communication than ever before. Utilizing LBM for political purposes opens up many different opportunities for politicians to connect with their supporters, as well as for potential voters to connect and share ideas with one another. Here are a few ways LBM may effect upcoming elections:

For Politicians
Social media has already changed the way that politicians communicate with their audience, and in upcoming elections we will surely see the ways in which LBM will take this communication to another level. Services like Facebook Places and Foursquare, for example, are excellent ways for politicians to keep supporters involved and updated about the campaign. Using these services will allow politicians to reach an even larger audience than traditional methods without being too obtrusive. A good example of this is the recently announced partnership between and Foursquare.

Checking in to campaign events, charities and other places that matter to the community would be a great way for a politician to demonstrate their efforts to and get some positive attention. Instead of actively having to seek out this campaign information, potential voters will easily be able to find it just by logging into their social networks. Using LBM can also make it easier for politicians to locate their supporters, as well as supporters of opposing parties, which in turn will help identify which areas may need more (or less) attention.

For Potential Voters
The greatest thing about social networking is that it allows anyone to communicate with anyone else. This is excellent when it comes to politics, and now LBM has added another useful layer to this communication. Utilizing LBM not only allows potential voters to easily get up to date on what politicians are doing, but also makes it easier to identify like-minded voters with whom they can connect and share ideas with.

Geopollster is a good example, a service that works with Foursquare so that users can “cast a vote” for whichever party they support every time they check in somewhere. This allows other users to easily view where supporters are located in their area, and find out where they might want to go to connect with these people. Geopollster (used during the 2011 Canadian Federal election) also provides online maps (in Canada and the U.S) that show which areas of the country are dominated by what party, and by what percent. This allows for an interesting (although not entirely accurate) way to get an idea of candidate standings. The concept of gamification, is highly evident here as the population is encouraged to continue checking-in to “take control of a building” for their party. It’s like playing a location-based version of the old board game Risk.

Utilizing LBS can also make it easy for those who want to be more politically active to find out what kind of campaign events are happening nearby that they can take part in.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.