Democrats and Republicans are both planning to use social media extensively during their national conventions. The Republicans call theirs a “convention without walls,” while the Democrats say their gathering will be “the most open and accessible in history.”

Democrats will stream caucus meetings and the council discussions of the party’s platform and ideals along with prime-time speeches live. Meanwhile, the Republicans have hired a full-time blogger and a full-time digital communications manager to engage people online.

The conventions’ Facebook and Twitter sites are pumping up the events, with photos of the Republican stage under construction in Tampa and profiles of Democratic volunteers and delegates. To show the growth of social media during this time, Twitter said number of items posted on Election Day 2008 is equal to about six minutes worth of tweets today.

Republicans have social media team with its own “Social Media War Room” in the Tampa Convention Center, pushing out videos on YouTube. “Our goal is to leverage these technologies, to reach every American, whether they are in Toledo, Ohio, the convention floor in Tampa or a forward operating base in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Democrats will have a similar setup at their convention September 4 – 6 in Charlotte. “We’re able to expand it even further and invite the whole country to participate in a more interactive way then you might traditionally experience by tuning into a television,” said Nikki Sutton, director of digital media for the 2012 Democratic Convention.

Convention organizers will use social media to emphasize themes that might get lost in the traditional media’s limited coverage. “There’s just not a lot of convention coverage that is going to be offered by the major networks, and this becomes a way that individual figures’ speeches get publicity,” said Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Democrats have also released a smartphone app that provides one place for videos, blog posts and photos. The app also includes an interactive map to help visitors to Charlotte find convention locations or restaurants.

Donna Chen, the director of marketing and communications for the Tampa Downtown Partnership said more than 15 tourism and convention groups are setting up their own “Social Media Command Center” for the convention. Tampa Bay and Co., the area’s tourism and marketing agency, is coordinating the effort using the hashtag “TampaBay” to curate the posts.

Source: AP