Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

November 2010

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Time to Trade in Plastic Campaign Signage for Social Media

November 2, 2010

As I drove from TMC's office to my local polling facility, I was once again amazed by the sheer number of signs promoting the various candidates hoping to secure gubernatorial, senatorial, and other offices in today's elections. I had driven past these same signs every day for the past month or more, and often wondered, "Why?"   Why what? Why is it necessary to waste resources printing and assembling these signs, and then placing them across towns and cities? Why is it then necessary to expend resources taking them down and disposing of them?   The whole concept resembles a children's game, where each competes to see who has more trading cards - or bigger trading cards, if you happened to see any of the oversized Linda McMahon campaign signs in Connecticut, which dwarfed all others.   The point - independent of any political views, as these unsightly displays of fiscal and environmental indifference are hardly limited to any single party - is that in today's age of electronic engagement and social media, this old fashioned strategy should have already become a historical phenomenon.   If the last presidential election showed one thing, it proved the power of technology and social media and interaction is as strong a force as any other. Politics is a business, and anyone following the technology space knows how quickly social media has become part of the business world. Companies are integrating social media into their customer relationship management activities, enterprise social media platforms are growing by the day, Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups supporting business activities have become the norm.

  So, with the technology that is available today, from social media to digital signage to mobile advertising, is it really still necessary to pollute our yards and streets with costly cardboard and plastic signs?   I have to wonder what impact it would have if one candidate would take all the money his or her campaign would have spent on physical signage and put it toward funding new technology or textbooks at local schools. I would be willing to bet more than a few voters would quickly be swayed to change their votes on that evidence alone, as opposed to often empty campaign promises.   That's if you're lucky enough to even get that. When asked about his plans for addressing certain inefficiencies in educational facilities, one local candidate responded to me, "Come talk to me if I win."   The point, simply, is that at a time when we businesses and consumers alike must practice fiscal responsibility and environmental awareness, is it too much to ask that political candidates do the same? "Practice what you preach" is an old adage, but it carries as much weight today as ever.