Friday, March 16, 2007

Google Workshop

Google. It's a big sponsor here at the conference, and their presents is everywhere: The keynote speech, the Google Lounge, and bright colorful advertisements on every binder, poster, and pamphlet. At the Google Workshop, the first presentation on a rainy Friday morning in DC, the Google-YouTube guys, Derek Kuhl, Steve Grove, Dave Alpert, went over the ways the politicians and campaigners can spread the word using ad-words, e-mail/donor tracking, and scary viral videos on YouTube.

"If your getting a message out there, make sure your following that up online," Derek said. The day after a book, personality, or, ahem, politician, is featured on a The Daily Show or Today, many users will goolge that five minute TV segment to learn more. This is such a basic, but fundamental idea. So make sure that you have online ad-words, wikis, and websites ready to help those users find the information they are looking for.

Dave then spoke about some of the Google tools. The most interesting device Dave explained was the page rank system, used by the Google bot - the more links you use from reputable sites, and reputable sites link you, the better your rank. Also affecting the rank of your page is your linked text, and of course the text on the page. But be careful you don't place words in pictures, because the "Google bot" cannot find read these words. So that beautiful graphic superimposed over the hero-shot of your candidate will not be ranked by the all-powerful Google bot.

The news and politics editor of YouTube spoke at the conference, another young man on the panel, and clearly taking advantage of casual Friday. He helps YouTubers develop their political programming and citizen journalism. YouChoose '08 gives politicians a chance to speak to whatever issues they want to address. This website,
only up for two weeks (already with 3 million hits a day), allows the necessary two-way conversation between the candidates and voters. Users can post written or video responses to content, and using these comment sections, they will speak to one-another about a hot button issue. This is one of the greatest powers of YouTube.

As far as making your own content on YouChoose'08, shorter is better, but remember that content is king. You have to be real and genuine, that's what works the best on YouTube. I remember one of the biggest scandals on YouTube was Lonelygirl15 acting in all of her posts. She was an engaging, cute, humorous girl posting simply edited Vlogs, but huge waves were created when she was ousted scripting her Vlogs with her boyfriend. Many users do not respect her anymore. So, remember it's important to back away from the political-issue-dodging, and instead engage the users with real honesty. Your viewers will see spin and scripted content.

Humor and edginess is great, Derek said, but you're not just speaking to the Daily Show demographic. Your communicating to 18-45 year old range, and you can turn away many users if you don't keep this in mind. If you have great content, engaging content on a personal or fascinating level, an eight-minute video would not be a problem.

After several minutes of questions during the workshop, one can understand why this has been the workshop to attend during this conference. The audience was focused and excited about thinking differently on the campaign trail, hanging on every word. Often the questions were so vast and crazy, that the speakers had explain to the audience that their expertise was limited, but that they could connect them with people who could provide answers. It shows how energitic and open-minded these attendees are about these tools. Clearly, the macaca video is still fresh in everyone's mind going into this major presidential campaign.

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