Republicans dip their toes into social media, and still manage to drown
I’ve learned my first lesson as a blogger: a two-week hiatus is too long. I’ve finally surfaced, having been bogged down by projects, PR campaigns and committee work. Now, I’m playing catch up, reviewing the stories and controversies that came and went without my commentary. I’ll have to let most of them slide, but there is one story that surfaced about two weeks ago that I’ve been chomping at the bit to tackle.
GOP 2.0 (still loading…)
Earlier this month, the GOP launched its redesigned Web site. After seeing the role social media played in the Democrats success this past election, Republicans realized their campaign/communication strategies weren’t only outdated…they were artifacts. With a focus on incorporating social media into their design, the Republicans took to the drawing board.
So how did the launch go? Just ask the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post. To use a term popularized by my social media brethren, the Web site was an “epic fail.” Below is a list of the more egregious slip-ups:
- The “Future Leaders” page was initially left blank. In an effort to remedy the error, the site designers replaced the void with the word “You.”
- Jackie Robinson is listed as a prominent Republican. Too bad Robinson described himself as an Independent in his autobiography after he left the Republican Party when it failed to incorporate civil rights issues in its social agenda.
- Chairman Michael Steele’s Gmail account login and password were accidentally posted on the New York State section of the site. Administrative passwords and instructions for GOP.com were also posted on the page.
- An achievement from 2004 is the most recent triumph the GOP lists on its achievements page (Bush was reelected in 2004 – this might have been intentional).
- A Hispanic woman asked why the GOP did not offer a Spanish-translated page in the conference call section. The respondent suggested she visit the White House Web site, informing her that they have translations there.
- Michael Steele’s personal blog was initially called “What Up?” Steele’s first post started with “The internet has been around for a while, now.” Way to arrive late to the gravy train. The blog has since been renamed to “Change the Game.”
Just how deep is that hole, Michael?
Excusing Steele’s apparent racial identity issues, the Web site’s problems transcend technical glitches. The GOP has been two steps behind for a while now, and trying to catch up isn’t easy. The page actually crashed the day of its launch because of the influx of traffic from people visiting to make fun of the site.
I applaud the GOP for making the effort to become web-savvy, but find myself troubled that they were ever so far out of touch. Steele’s acknowledgment that “the internet has been around for a while now” speaks volumes. The party has been beleaguered by criticisms of being too set in its ways. It has been accused of being the party of old white men. While these claims are unfair, and for the most part untrue, more has to be done to break the stereotypes than giving us a malfunctioning Web site. Championing Michael Steele, Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin in an effort to diversify doesn’t help much either.