But the money also went into Google ads, targeted at Republican-leaning districts close by the campaign's 10 regional offices. Willington called these "Google blasts" and they asked people to volunteer for the final weekend of the campaign. The offices were flooded with more volunteers than they could handle for the phone banks. Willington quickly had simple cell phone applications created. Volunteers downloaded them to get lists of targeted voters whom they could call with their cell phones.
The poll results and the over-the-top donations electrified the state and the nation. In just two days, for example, Twitter followers of @scottbrownma soared from 11,000 to more than 16,000, according to Twittergrader. The existing online campaign infrastructure was able to leverage that attention, with the local race fueling national commentary, blogging, Facebook activity and tweeting, feeding back through conventional media outlets and a web of interconnected social networks to local voters in Massachusetts.
Brown himself was part of this interconnectedness, Luidhardt says. "My pet peeve is that many candidates use Twitter as a press release distribution system. Scott's tendency was to reply to posts….This played into the broad them of 'the guy from Wrentham driving a truck,' the guy next door, the fact that Brown was willing to interact." Even before the U.S. Senate campaign, if Brown got a birthday announcement from one of his Facebook friends, he'd send a greeting in reply.
(Brown campaign manager Eric Fehrnstrom was quoted as saying that on election day, Brown was "calling through a list of hundreds of friends and neighbors to ask them to get out and vote.")
Social Media: "Word of Mouth, on Steroids"
That interaction, even though necessarily limited given Brown's grueling, indefatigable campaign schedule, critically involved Brown volunteers and supporters, on the Brown Bridage site, for example, interacting with each other, Luidhardt says. "We weren't just sending them an e-mail and they were reading it. They talked among themselves, tweeted among themselves. They took a role.
"The best form of advertising is word of mouth," LaRosa says. "This [social media] is word of mouth on steroids."
The morning before election day, by one account, @scottbrownma had 10,214 Twitter follower compared to 3,520 for @marthacoakley; Brown had 76,700 Facebook fans compared to Coakley's 14,487, a figure which almost sums up what happened the next day: Coakley was in effect left alone, while voters flocked to Brown.
Social networks are another way for you to interact with other people, he says. "There's more to Twitter than tweeting. Most of the business of Twitter happens behind the scenes, and on phone calls like this one."
"An engaged following is more likely to retweet, to comment on blogs, to respond to unfounded criticism," LaRosa says. "They become connected to you and they feel it is in their interest to act. Some bloggers spend hours online posting links and blogging. It became a movement and it just fed on itself. It's very hard to create that."
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.
This story, "How Scott Brown LOLed All the Way to his Senate Seat" was originally published by Network World.