Thursday, January 17, 2008

10 Examples of Getting Social Media in Politics...

Below are a few examples of campaigns getting it - and by "it" I mean what is becoming the social web. Great effort and dollars has been invested on campaign websites, but it is the online effort outside the traditional campaign website that matters.
  1. Clinton's Facebook Page - though it had its faults, the Clinton camp's attempt at driving her Facebook supporters to ask questions was a great attempt at employing the social graph to take action on behalf of the campaign.

  2. Edwards' Open Thread - John Edwards does a good job of encouraging conversation with his blog, in particular his use of the common open thread. However, given the glut of positive comments, my sense is they may be moderating this a bit much. Excluding Thompson and Romney, campaigns on both sides at least are maintaining blogs, some better than others...

  3. The League of Young Voters Facebook Application - with MoveOn, The League of Young Voters makes a decent attempt at enabling the political conversation within Facebook. Though they may be trying to do too much, I love the ability to not only show your support for your favorite candidate, but also define why you like the particular candidate.

  4. Obama's Facebook Application - another valuable attempt at engaging via the social web. There are certainly opportunities for improvement. I loved what they did just before Iowa, allowing you to see who among your friends are in Iowa and giving you a means to encourage them to participate in the Caucus. And they remain the only campaign (on the D-side) with an official FB application. Giuliani has one, but it does not appear to be working and only has 900 installations (vs. Obama's still meager 75 K)

  5. Richardson's Use of Facebook Updates - with the launch of Facebook's Pages system in November, campaigns could (finally) send updates to their vast supporter base within the social network. Richardson was the first and still the most active user of this feature, despite dropping out last week. For Obama, close to 250 K self-identified supporters can be reached; for Clinton, close to 75 K, and these numbers keep growing. It is important that the campaigns continue to diversify the channels with which they communicate with the electorate. Unfortunately, am not a supporter of the Republicans within Facebook, so I am unaware of their activity with this tool.

  6. Use of Video - All three major campaigns are maintaining a presence on YouTube (see Clinton, Edwards and Obama on the D-side, and Romney, Huckabee, Thompson and McCain on the R-side). Obama, McCain, and Romney have spent significant effort on the video component of his website, whereas the other video sections are less sophisticated. Given the use of campaign websites, I don't see his effort as an advantage at this point. It's all about YouTube...

  7. Edwards' Use of Twitter - though he hasn't posted since November 6th, their first-mover attempt at using a new technology is valuable (Edwards started twittering a year ago, Obama in April and Clinton just this month after Iowa). Edwards' tweets also appear to be actually from the road, whereas Clinton's and Obama's appear written from their HQ rather than the road. With 4, 199 followers, I am curious as to why Edwards has stopped posting? In 2000, Florida was lost by less than 500 votes... None of the Republican candidates appear to have active Twitter accounts.

  8. Virtual Phonebanking - Obama , Clinton, Thompson, and McCain offer the opportunity for their supporters to call potential voters from the comfort of their home. Giuliani directs supporters to call talk radio stations and Edwards, Romney and Huckabee appear to have missed the phonebanking boat. Massive phone banks have long been a mainstay (and expense) of traditional field operations. Enabling volunteers to call from home greatly expands the pool of volunteers, as they no longer have to be at a specific place at a specific time. And the campaigns no longer have to buy the phone lines! It will be interesting to see if this takes off, and what impact the isolation of being at home has, versus being among a group of like-minded individuals.

  9. Online Organizing of Off-line Events - Led by Obama, all three major Democratic contenders are testing the use of online event management tools, like Eventful and Facebook's Events. Huckabee is using MeetUp (how 2004...), but appears to be the most adventurous in this space. The hindrance at this point appears technical, as the difficulty of updating and managing numerous event sites is very labor-intensive (see #2).

  10. Thompson's Fundraising Widget - Though all campaigns have their contribute button visible everywhere, Thompson goes a step further by enabling bloggers and other tech-savvy folks to add a widget to their online presence. Others offer the button, but Thompson's includes fields to input name and email right within the widget. I expect more sophisticated widgets to become available, as the campaign rolls on.

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