Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN


November 23, 2012

How an unknown won with social media


The catalytic factor in this upset was the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Dave Galvin, a friend of mine, had been brought on to the Ritz campaign by Trish Whitcomb, the daughter of former Republican Gov. Edgar Whitcomb.

"The strategy was simple," Galvin explained. "Build a strong base of supporters, supply them with resources and information, spend funds wisely, run a grassroots campaign by means of social media, out work our opponent, and be innovative.

"It was a David vs. Goliath scenario and we didn't even have a slingshot, not to mention that we didn't initiate the campaign plan until the second week of June, fundraising was slow, we didn't have enough money for polling, and our primary group of activists - teachers - were on summer break."

Galvin and Ritz created an earned media and social media campaign based on a hybrid of two strategies: The 2008 Obama presidential campaign and the tactics of social media activists of the Arab Spring.

"The Obama juggernaut was one of the first campaigns to use nano-targeting strategies to drive voters to the Obama website and social media platforms," Galvin explained. "Arab Spring activists were very effective in not just communicating their message to their supporters and coordinating rallies, but they also used basic social media tools to tell and show the world, in real-time, what was happening on the ground. One way they did this was by tagging photos with the names of relatives and media outlets that lived and operated abroad, as a result they expanded their viral universe."

That was the "slingshot."

The "stones" were what he described as a "well-crafted consistent barrage of challenges" to Dr. Bennett's education reforms designed to plant seeds of doubt in voters' heads on issues like the A-F school grades. Teachers began discussions about Glenda's campaign by posting local news coverage of her press conferences on the campaign's Facebook page.

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