Going mobile

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Last week’s release of a report on the use and growth of the mobile web by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Center shows us something that most in the social media world already know – that we are all going mobile – in a big way, and in a fast way.

In just the last year, the percentage of people accessing the Internet via mobile phones has climbed eight points, from 32 percent to 40 percent. Daily usage has also jumped, from just 24 percent to 43 percent saying they went online several times a day from their mobile phone.

But while most people might assume that the average mobile Internet user is a 30-something white male, the poll showed otherwise, and may have given us some further insight into who and how to continue to tap mobile technology for get out the vote efforts in coming election cycles.

The survey further proved a trend that is changing the face of the digital divide.  Minorities in the U.S. are growing in number and voice and changing the way we access information through the Internet. Rather than investing in the newest MacBook, minorities are bypassing traditional ways of connecting to the Internet, choosing instead the more cost effective method of going online via their mobile devices.

Following the 2008 election, Steve Schmidt of the McCain campaign said:

If the [Republican] party does not figure out a way to appeal to Latino voters, it will become increasingly difficult, and maybe impossible, to ever again win a national election.

Democrats obviously agree — some even call the White House’s mission to reach out to Latinos a “near obsession.”

The Latino vote has grown exponentially since 2000, changing the political landscape in more than a dozen states across the country, and is poised to be pivotal yet again in the 2010 cycle. Both parties need the growing minority vote to be successful in November.

While traditional get out the vote efforts will certainly be useful, Pew’s numbers suggest that cutting edge mobile and SMS organizing successfully utilized in 2008 by the Obama campaign and groups like Rock the Vote will clearly be more important than ever for campaigns to communicate, not only with minorities, but also the technology savvy, ever elusive, 18-29 voting bloc as these influential demographics, continue to very rapidly go mobile.

Microtargeting minorities through technologically relevant get-out-the-vote measures, organizing, and fundraising campaigns will be a key to success on both sides of the aisle this November and in years to come.

Erica Fitzsimmons is a Director at The Herald Group, a Washington, DC based public affairs firm. You can follow her on Twitter at @efitzsimmons.