Talking Online Politics With Bill McIntyre, Part 2
Last week, eM+C Weekly ran Part 1 of its Q-and-A with Bill McIntyre, executive vice president of Washington, D.C.-based liberal think tank Grassroots Enterprise. In "Talking Online Politics With Bill McIntyre, Part 1", McIntyre discussed online campaigning in general terms. This week, he explores how the presumptive nominees use the Internet differently, and offers best practices for online fundraising.eM+C: Prevailing opinion seems to indicate that Sen. Barack Obama is doing a better job communicating with voters online. In June, Obama's site had more than 2.5 million unique visitors, while Sen. John McCain's site received a little more than 800,000, according to site analytics firm Compete. How are the presumptive nominees using the Internet differently, and is one candidate doing a better job than the other?
Bill McIntyre: Both online campaigns are using state of the art tools and deploying them in strategically smart ways. As much as the Obama campaign gets the credit for being leaps and bounds ahead of everybody, the tools it's using aren't any different than what McCain is using.
Obama has smartly allowed control of the delivery of his message to go beyond him. He's confident that his message is clear and easily articulated by others in whatever creative way they see fit. Hence, you get the "Yes We Can" video by Will.i.am [of the pop group the Black Eyed Peas] and the phenomenon that was Obama Girl. The Obama online campaign was open to taking those messages and a lot of others like them and promoting them. That has really helped his online campaign flourish in the social media arena.
eM+C: What are some best practices for fundraising online?
BM: The best practices are the tried and true: Ask for money, ask again, and if they give you anything, ask twice as often for twice as much and connect the donation to any political issue you can. Urgency is very effective in getting donations, and e-mail has made it even more so.
Between now and the general election, candidates will use urgency surrounding certain issues. "If you really want to see change in our health care system, give now." And if you respond, they know you are susceptible to health care messages. If that doesn't work, they may come back with, "Give now so we can elect a candidate that is going to reduce global warming." E-mail has allowed candidates to more easily track who responds best to what message.
Incentives, such as bumper stickers, jackets or the chance to meet the candidate, also are important. The folks at the Obama campaign are being very smart and opportunistic. They know he's going to give an acceptance speech at the convention, so they sent out an e-mail with this basic message: "There are going to be 20,000 people at the convention. Obama is going to make this cool acceptance speech, which will be history in the making. For a donation of $5, we'll enter you in a raffle to win a round-trip for two to the convention to watch that acceptance speech outside on a big screen in a secure area with 10,000 other people." That's a brilliant incentive, and all it's doing is giving folks the opportunity to go watch the guy give a speech and view it on a big screen TV. You could watch it on your own screen at home, but people want to be there.
Reach Bill at email@example.com.