Levinson and others give the Obama team a lot of credit for mastering social media during the 2008 campaign. I haven’t followed the Republican primaries online, just on radio, but I thought I would check out a few websites to see how the candidates are presenting themselves, see what tools they are using.
MittRomney.com has the facebook like, the twitter follow, and the email links so people can sign themselves up to get more information. That alone is pretty clever–opt in, rather than opt out. Pretty standard now. Big picture slide show: that too seems to be the new standard for high end web design. NDSU uses the same strategy. Interesting “Spotlight” section with 4 topics trying to get readers to go past the first page and get involved or buy something from the Romney story. Romney video is next, meaning visual story telling takes precendent over textual story telling; the poor old blog is third. A news feed is forth, and then the social media tools, including Flickr and 4 square, the later I have heard a lot about but haven’t tried, fill up the bottom of the screen. Kyle Locket, can you tell us about Foursquare?
http://www.newt.org is laid out differently. The slide show is less prominent, the social media bar includes YouTube and Google +, suggesting Newt is trying out some tools Mitt is not using. The rest of the front page is a series of stories, more like our teasers, and then a right hand column that seems to be managed by his wife Calista. Considering the news today, and the expose by wife #2 (I think) that is going to come out this weekend, this choice seems risky!
Ron Paul doesn’t use a slide show, just a “ticker” showing donations and who made them. Raised almost $1.8 million, going for $3m. He’s the guy who appeals to college students (among other demographics) but the website doesn’t strike me as young or hip. HIs Social Media Counter shows that Fb sharing is by far the social media of choice: 549K, with twitter only 58K and Google + 3K.
I could go look at Santorum’s page, but it just occurred to me that I should look at Obama’s re-election site. I immediately noticed that visitors can set up a an account and log in. I had to go back to the Republican pages, and noticed that only Romney has this feature, and its placement is not as prominent. Instead of a slide show, Obama’s page has 6 images, all of which entice viewers to click and learn more. His moving component includes statements about his accomplishments. If a viewer scrolls down, they get a fairly long story (plus image) of a volunteer in Hawaii, prominent “take action buttons” and the Twitter feed from @barackobama.
My cursory analysis suggests to me the Obama site is more comfortable with social media and combines an interesting visual-textual strategy, but will social media make a difference again in 2012? Did it really make a difference in 2008. Interesting trends to watch!