Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Al Gore's We Campaign: Online Marketing that Misses the Opportunity

I wanted to build upon Allison Fine's laments about former Vice President Al Gore's We campaign online strategy. My focus here is on opportunities for improvement, given the changes in the social web over the past 12 - 24 months.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the site to submit your email address - very traditional online marketing. However, email is becoming a less relevant tool in daily communication, especially as spam continues to grow. Such a one-to-many medium allows you to disseminate your message, but does little to develop a relationship with your constituency. Newer, more effective tools are available today, often for free, and many more are on the horizon.

Once you submit your email address, they ask you for more information - physical address (for direct mail), cell phone number (for text alerts), etc. They have added numerous links to invite your friends, again only via email. They even included a tool to share aspects of the site on popular sites such as Digg, Facebook and Each of these is an essential tactic for any sort of online advocacy. However, each of these tools and techniques has been in the mainstream for a while now, and none go far enough towards where we are heading - to the social web.

On the video front, they have a few clips available, including their latest ads. Again, examples of traditional online strategy. However:
  • They did not cross-post their clips on YouTube.
  • They do not have a Facebook Page or Group
  • They do not have a MySpace Page
I do not mean to assume that every organization must behold all of these platforms. However, an advocacy initiative must be where their audience is - that is the whole idea of advocacy. And today's passionate audience is most certainly on one or all of these platforms, among many others.

In addition to message placement, the campaign's action center is also quite limiting, given the current online environment. Again, each action begins and ends with one-to-may forms of communication - send an email to your friends, write a letter to the editor or to your Congressman, etc. There are no opportunities for the engaged audience of the campaign to interact among themselves.
  • No opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas
  • No opportunities to collaborate and provide feedback
  • No opportunities to share success stories or other pertinent information valuable to the overall audience
They don't even have a blog, let alone a comments tool and/or message board. Again, I do not begin to preach that any organization must have all of the above. But for an advocacy initiative in this day and age, some of the above tools must be employed. At least, the free ones...

These tools allow your message to grow beyond you. Yes, you cede control, but the power that is unleashed far surmounts whatever costs are incurred. For an advocacy initiative, especially one that already enjoys a large and passionate constituency, equipping the audience to evangelize your message far beyond the confines of your organization is essential - an opportunity the We campaign appears to be missing so far...

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