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08/04/2011

Whether feigned or frank, I welcome NOM's social media sedation

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2011-08-04 At 2.12.47 PmThere's been a lot of talk in the past day or so abut the National Organization For Marriage, its online outreach arms, and its regard for the LGBT bloggers that have led the charge against the group. So let's discuss this.

First the online outreach itself. In a new article posted at the Clikz marketing news site, NOM chair Maggie Gallagher says this of the group's social media presence and level of concern for the same:

Despite NOM's attention to Twitter and Facebook, and obvious desire to spur action in social media channels, Maggie Gallagher, NOM's chairman of the board, told ClickZ in an email, "I would not say that Facebook and Twitter are hugely important in our model. Email fundraising is. We do plan to continue to investigate how new media strategies can help our cause." NOM did not respond to multiple follow-up interview requests for comment about the so-called SWAT team.
Gay Marriage Foes Accused of Astroturfing [Clikz]

But this stated indifference is completely ridiculous. Just recently I showed you NOM's new "100K Challenge" wherein a nameless "generous donor" has supposedly promised a buck for every "like" or follow the organization receives on Facebook or Twitter, respectively. The whole point of this, as I already opined, is to build up some sense of social media support base for the group, which was decimated when NOM defector Louis Marinelli seized back control of the F'book group he had created for the organization. NOM's social media presence (from Facebook to forums to YouTube comments) is famously tipped towards pro-equality followers, most of whom come on to the properties to engage with the robotic talking points in which NOM traffics. So this latest campaign is 100% designed to change this course. Every single group, candidate, business, and any other kind of entity is now focused on/ affected by social media -- why should NOM be somehow above it?

And let's not forget: NOM has a whole (Catholic) firm that pretty much does nothing *but* control the social media aspect. So yeah: They're concerned.


Now for the other component: NOM's regard for LGBT bloggers. NOM defector Marinelli wrote in a blog post:

Occasionally I would come across things that I thought could develop into a public relations issue and I either e-mailed them to Mr. Brown or brought them up to him personally. Either way, his typical response to me went something like this:

“Oh, that’s not important. [The gay bloggers] are just talking to themselves. Nobody reads their blogs except gay people.”

After a couple of times I realized Mr. Brown didn’t have any respect for the gay blogosphere and stopped providing him updates on what people were saying so frequently.

Gay bloggers, according to Mr. Brown, are in a circle and they have their blogs and they post ‘stories’ in the form of articles on their blogs and only the other gay bloggers, who are likely posting the same thing since everything gets cross-posted from one blog to another, are reading it. So everyone in the circle reads the post but it never leaves the circle, never goes mainstream.
Brian Brown has no respect for gay bloggers [LJM]

Okay, so a few things here. First and foremost: If this is really how Brian feels, then good. Let him. He marginalizes and discredits us at his own non-pragmatic peril, which is more than fine by me.

However, I suspect that if Brian ever did feel this way, then he may not now. In the time since he would've made these comments to Marinelli, Brian has watched his 2010 bus tour get eviscerated by counter coverage; suffered a brutal Prop 8 federal trial loss; looked on as an employee he trusted walk away and specifically cited NOM operations as the reason for his defection; appeared at rallies that have come to be defined by the incredibly off-message things uttered by on-hand speakers; and struggled to maintain a "mainstream" presence as online activists (like yours truly) highlighted every suspect alliance, rally sign, sermon, or pro-"ex-gay" message connected to NOM. Online activists Screen Shot 2011-08-04 At 2.10.34 Pmand online-based activist groups have been at the forefront in challenging NOM, taking on both the organization and any lacking mainstream media coverage that fails to adequately paint the full picture. In the LGBT world in general and with NOM in particular, bloggers make considerable rain, even if they do not always get the credit. In fact, I'd argue that 85% or more of people who even know about NOM, know about NOM because of online commentators, bloggers, activists, and various other social media engagers.

Plus, if Brian's looking at this on a blogger-by-blogger basis, he's missing the point entirely. Because this chatter isn't about any one of us, working alone, on either "side" of this sill "culture war." We are all fighting for momentum, trying to win the public engagement battle by using every utensil in our cupboard. And the fact of the matter is that when people (from politicians to journalists to laypeople) go to search for any single NOM event that has ever taken place, the results tend to bring up more pro-equality pushback than actual support for the event in question. This is forever. This is powerful. You can thank bloggers for much (/most) of it.

So again: If Maggie wants to focus only on email and if Brian really feels like bloggers are of no concern to him, then those obtuse beliefs truly makes me happy. You can't see me, but the thought is making me smile right now. Beam even. While Brian and Maggie are busy marginalizing their most ardent opponents, we will gladly pick apart their indefatigable dream of inequality. And we will do it methodically, one <a href=> at a time!

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