If you want engagement, be ready to engage

I just spent the last hour have a very enjoyable time writing a post on the Guardian’s News blog about the ‘hack’ of John McCain’s MySpace page. I put hack in quotes because I really don’t like how the media uses the term. It’s very unsophisticated, and they usually mean breaking into computers you don’t have permission to use.

But the defacement of John McCain’s MySpace page is sure to go down as Mike Davidson, the ‘hacker’ and CEO of NewsVine, has dubbed it: The ‘immaculate hack’.

Mike gives Team McCain some criticism that rings true for political candidates but also for many news organisations who believe their staff needn’t be involved in their communities:

But then I read the article in today’s Newsweek about how politicians are all setting up MySpace pages in order to “connect” with younger audiences. McCain’s MySpace page is listed, as are the pages from several other candidates. I think the idea of politicians setting up MySpace pages and pretending to actually use them is a bit disingenuous, so I figured it was time to play a little prank on Johnny Mac.

Todd Zeigler in this post at the Bivings Report put it more directly:

This is another example of the point I made in my last post: if campaigns are going to play in these social communities they need to understand the rules and respect the culture.

It’s pretty easy to see through these cheap ploys, and they feel disingenuous. Setting up a static page on a social networking site actually makes it look even more static, not at all interactive. Just by being in MySpace, or having a Twitter feed or putting the odd video up on YouTube doesn’t make a media organisation more interactive if you don’t actually interact.

Publishing on an interactive platform is still just publishing. What happens when people ask your ‘content’ questions, and there isn’t a human being there to answer? Well, at the very least, nothing happens. People get bored and go away. But, sometimes bad things happen, especially when you’re not particularly clueful with your approach and don’t understand the space. If you want community and participation, be ready to participate.

Comments are closed.