Rarely have I been so excited about a US presidential election, but the Obama – McCain spar has piqued my interest for a number of reasons:
- Old School vs. New School – a 47 year old candidate versus a 72 year old candidate, one talking about change, the other talking about reform
- ‘Attack’-style political campaigning on both sides
- The completely different backgrounds of both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates
- The role of the blogosphere has played in digging deep into political spin and doing investigative reporting that the mainstream outlets wouldn’t touch (Sarah Palin’s emails, anyone?)
- The role of the Internet in political campaigning
I won’t write a massive post on how Obama has phenomenally harnessed the power of the Internet for campaigning and fundraising. What I’m really interested in right now is his new Facebook application and how he’s using it to register voters.
The Obama campaign has publicised the app through their Facebook fan page. Once you add the app to your page, it asks you your name and whether or not you’re registered to vote. If you’re not registered, it takes you to this page:
Then it asks you where you live and what your phone number is so it can begin the voter registration process for you.
It asks you a few more questions and then takes you a page within the app that lets you download a registration form specifically for your state, with detailed and dated instructions on what to do to finish the registration process and what to do on voting day.
This is a brilliant tool for the Facebook generation who may be policitised and keenly following the election coverage, but have left registering to vote to the last minute. By giving them the tools to ensure they are enfranchised, the Obama campaign have in effect created a very innovative viral campaign, which they have savvily anticipated by adding a send to a friend tool, an email and a share on Facebook or MySpace option on the last page of the app.
The final cleverness of the app adds the fact that you’ve both started and finished registering to vote and onto your Facebook newsfeed, which creates another viral effect that might prompt your Facebook friends to register to vote, ask you why you haven’t finished registering to vote or to ask you about your political views.
This is really exciting digital marketing that a lot of charities can learn from. It shows how willing people are to get involved in something and that if you give them to tools to get involved and make it easier, then they will.