Friday, June 22, 2007

Two campaigns' online strategies

Two interesting blog posts have appeared today, looking at two of the most Internet-savvy presidential campaigns.

First up, TechPresident reports on Obama on the Go, a mobile campaign with its own shortcode (Obama is lucky enough to have a five-character name). You can join to get campaign updates, download ringtones and wallpaper, and (possibly) submit your own. The idea looks well executed, and Justin Oberman concludes:
It looks like it has been a smooth launch for Obama mobile. I hope the campaign keeps the alerts focused on the mobile medium and doesn't just send out reminders to visit websites and watch television. The mobile medium is best accessed as a form of digital self expression and call to action. Obama has been good with that in the past, now let's see if he can translate it to the fastest growing digital medium in the United States.
Of the top tier candidates, Obama is consistently ahead in adopting social networking and now mobile technologies, and that gives him the potential to spread messages virally and to leverage the inventiveness of his supporters. Whether this translates into a winning strategy remains to be seen.

But let's go to the second tier of candidates. Here, Ron Paul has really jumped in with both feet -- paradoxically, by avoiding creating much infrastructure, as Todd Ziegler reports:

In all the talk about the Ron Paul online machine, there has been very little discussion of his actual campaign website, which has recently undergone a facelift. His approach is novel. Instead of building an infrastructure on his own campaign website. like most candidates have done, Paul has created a portal to his presences on various third party websites.

The Paul website itself essentially consists of a homepage, an issues section, a bio page, a donation form, a sign up form and a blog. Interestingly for the social candidate, his blog doesn’t even allow comments. Instead, it encourages visitors to discuss/interact with the blog content on social sites like Digg,, StumbleUpon and Facebook. He seems to deliberately avoid building a community on his own site. Due to this, supporters have no choice but to organize elsewhere.

Ziegler goes on to talk about how brilliant this is, and I concur: people already have accounts on other internet services, so why not leverage that? The campaign avoids the expense of developing and adminstering these services. Of course, this means giving up control of these services, but that's not necessarily a drawback for a candidate looking to break out of the pack.

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