Twitter: It was relatively new in 2008—and politically, it was a non-factor. Barack Obama had one of the biggest Twitter fan bases in the world as of Election Day, and with all of 118,107 followers, it was less than 1 percent of the size of his email list. Since then, though, tens of millions of Americans have turned to micro-blogging, particularly those of us in the political space. Even if a campaign’s own Twitter feed isn’t very active, Twitter will shape the communications environment in which a modern political fight takes place.
Twitter’s strength is speed—breaking news now flashes around the world in seconds, and news stories and political message points have plenty of fresh ground in which to take root. It’s also good at connecting people, and smart campaigns will not only tweet themselves but will also spend time cultivating Twitter activists and prominent voices in their districts and beyond. You’ll want to have good relationships established before you need them, meaning that it’s time to cash in those chits with Ashton Kutcher.