It may be Election eve, but similar to Republican Presidential hopefuls, Multimedia Politics already has its eyes cast on 2012.
It was exciting on Thursday to see Foursquare’s announcement of its ‘I Voted’ badge. Location-based applications will have a significant impact on political communications in the near-future. Combining tools such as Foursquare or Gowalla with existing social media channels will add an interactive element to Members’ media portfolios. And while the badge’s impact may be minimal on Election Day tomorrow, campaigns better pay attention and take notes because come 2012, it could become the most effective GOTV tool available.
Foursquare is partnering with Rock the Vote, the Pew Trusts, Google, the Voting Information Project, Engage, Twitter Vote Report, and Jess3 to monitor foot traffic at polling locations. The information will be updated continuously on elections.foursquare.com and Foursquare is making it available for anyone to embed it on their own website.
So what does this mean for campaigns? First, simply it is another tool for a campaign to track voter turnout by polling location. Imagine if campaigns were no longer dependent on frequent phone updates from field organizers? In addition, field organizers can track who has voted and avoid having to call them on Election Day. Lastly, campaigns can post frequent updates on their website and social media channels of how many people have voted and encourage those who have not to turnout.
What is stopping campaigns from creating an “I voted for [insert candidate name]” badge in 2012? Citizens may be inspired to vote by seeing their friends publically proclaim who they voted for. Some criticize Foursquare because it only has four million users – hardly a sampling of the population. This is true but Twitter had less than one million users in 2007 and has 175 million today. Location-based applications are part of the future of political communications and politicians who use the applications now will be ahead of the curve come 2012.