Google’s Colin McKay summed up his one-hour GooglElection session in a single statement: “The Internet is outstripping what would traditionally be considered tactical media.”

It was a fast-pace, information-packed hour. McKay mixed data and anecdotes to illustrate how information and the shared social experience is accelerating the move online:

  • 87% of Canadian households have Internet access.
  • Canadians spend 41.3 hours online per month.
  • Canadians now watch 28.9 hours of Internet video each week, surpassing television (which sits at 28.8 hours/week) for the first time.
  • Canadians are ranked second in the world for YouTube video viewing.
  • People look to the Internet for information on an election, candidate and issues 14.7 times leading up to election day.

It’s no longer a platitude. The Internet is the go-to source for information. This isn’t really a surprise; at least, it shouldn’t come as one. We knew this was coming, and we knew Google would play leading role in this shift. It’s a shift that’s been helped with refinements to Google’s delivery of search results.

McKay explained Google’s Knowledge Card, a grouping of information on the right side of a search results page for individuals. The card organizes information relevant to the individual, putting weight on photos and information gathered from websites, Google+ profiles and Wikipedia.

Draw them in (Google is more than just a search engine)

Search is only one part of the power of Google, though. McKay spent a healthy amount of time explaining the value of asserting a consistent brand image. He illustrated why and provided a series of examples of how to best use Google+, Google Hangouts, Google Hangouts on Air, YouTube and Google Calendar for effective online campaigning and engagement.

The importance of platform specific strategies and tactics cannot be underestimated.

  • A recent speech by U.S. President Barack Obama was broadcast live on television as a video feed. Online, the Obama team provided contextually relevant, supplementary material as part of the live stream.
  • Insurance provider GEICO, applied the martial arts idea of using an opponents weakness to its advantage. They created a YouTube ad that delivered the message within the grace period before the “Skip ad” button appears during a pre-roll ad, then transitions to entertainment as a gift to those who watched the message part.

Done well, online platforms are more than pulpits, they see and feed relationships. As McKay noted, drawing people to your outposts with attention-getting content means they’re likely to be exposed to more substantive campaign-related content once they arrive. That’s a pretty solid onramp to engagement and perhaps a voter or volunteer.

For more information, download the Google+ Partner Playbook, the YouTube Creator Playbook, and visit YouTube for Government.

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