Wednesday, March 26, 2008

McCainBlogette Redux & The Campaign Strategist of '12

I wrote previously about the McCainBlogette site, where I questioned how it could be considered separate from the campaign. I still have reservations, especially since Meghan McCain is not answering the question of how the site is funded (see the end of today's article on the operation from the Washington Post).

Such legality and minutiae aside, this is a fascinating example of how the dynamic is changing. McCain offers a different perspective as a fly on the campaign wall, as her father travels the country. Some certainly find her thoughts improper, especially from the daughter of a candidate. However, she is providing a unique angle to the conversation, one that cannot be replicated by another candidate or even within another time.

Did the idea come about from campaign strategists? I doubt not. Is it an effective channel to offer a different dimension to the overall message and idea of the McCain candidacy? Absolutely. She is reaching folks that her father never could...

I don't think the current lottery of campaign strategists could conceive of something like this, much less support such a separate, uncontrolled channel. However, this will be more the norm next cycle than the exception. At least, it will be for the winning candidate. Who will fill these roles in 2012?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Viral v. Retention

I just came across Andrew Chen's blog - interesting stuff. I am pondering this post where he digs in to the lifecycle of a Facebook application. The prevailing idea is that many successful apps fall just as fast as they rise. The essential idea is that that viral elements feed the rise, but retention elements are needed to stave off decline. Applications that are deep on retention elements miss the rise all together. It is a rare app that provides a healthy balance.

The process of evolving an app from viral to retention follows a similar path found in traditional grassroots politicking. The goal is to first identify the supporter with very low-hurdle asks - sign a petition, pledge your support, provide an email address. Once snared, you then bring the user along the ladder of engagement, from these low-hurdle asks to such things as displaying a yard sign, volunteering, and ultimately donating.

Social media offers the opportunity to drive supporter engagement in a very similar manner, albeit with a plethora of new tools and opportunities. First, on the viral front, the initial hurdle for identification can be much lower (i.e. add an application, join a group). And the bar for engagement actions are much lower as well - make a call from your home, send an email, etc.

We have made our first successful stab on the viral front, with Hillary Gifts. Stay tuned as we support the Clinton campaign's move up the engagement ladder...