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2.0 Presidential Politics Debuts in Colombia

BY Diego Beas | Tuesday, June 29 2010

Half-a-million logins, 1,000 plus web pages created to engage with the candidate, more than 4 million opt-in email addresses, a 'Wall of Shame' to expose the lies of the opposing candidates, 275,000 Facebook followers and more than 10,000 on Twitter. Are these the metrics of the latest senator or governor to jump in the social media bandwagon? Not exactly. It’s Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's president-elect and the new political landscape of electoral politics in the South American country.

In just over 50 days and after a head-on tie in the first round of the presidential elections, Santos deployed his social media artillery to a degree of success never seen in Latin America. Using as its main hub, the New Media team was able to expand the candidates operations into unheard of territories, specially for Latin American politicians: opt-in SMS strategies, Pop-Corn parties to watch debates online, live streams via Ustream with iPhones, even an online game dubbed ‘SuperSantos’ in which the candidate fought poverty, corruption, drug-trafficking and unemployment.

The web strategy team was also able to lift Santos’ profile exponentially on Twitter and Facebook. Going from roughly 2,000 followers when the first-round of the elections took place to more than 10,000 in the second; as for Facebook, the candidates’ fan base grew by almost 200% in less than 60 days. Quite amazing considering the many limitations people in Colombia and Latin America face in terms of political participation and web access; fascinating prelude to a year when the giant of the region, Brazil, is holding presidential elections of its own in October.