Politics Can Be Crowdsourced, Too
from the changing-politics dept
Last week, Mike noted the latest example of the trend towards people wanting to share the news, rather than just consuming it. Now that two-way communications have become cheap and easy, people (especially young people) are growing accustomed to news reporting being a two-way enterprise, with them commenting on the news and sharing it with others rather than just passively consuming it. A recent Washington Post profile of the Obama campaign's online efforts suggests that something similar is happening in politics. The Obama campaign's fundraising efforts have put to shame those of the McCain and Clinton campaigns. The Post suggests that a major reasons is that Obama's campaign has been careful to cultivate a real relationship with its supporters, rather than just treating them like walking ATM machines. It notes that Obama's emails to his supporters are less likely to ask for money and more likely to invite them to attend a campaign event, watch a video, read an article, or volunteer time for the candidate. This is politics as crowdsourcing. Just as companies can build brand loyalty by cultivating an ongoing relationship with customers, so political campaigns can spark greater levels of support by making them feel like they have a greater stake in the campaign.
A particularly interesting part of this strategy was discussed is a recent edition of Don Marti's LinuxWorld podcast with Tony Steidler-Dennison, who talked about the Obama campaign's success with phone banking. The campaign has an online phone-banking system that allowed users to log into a website, get a list of phone numbers to call, and make the calls from the comfort of their own home. This saves the campaign the hassle of having to rent out space for phone banking, but more importantly it gets more volunteers the opportunity to participate, which gives them a stronger sense that they have a stake in the campaign. The net result will be that money will become less important, while volunteer engagement and enthusiasm will become a lot more important. Thanks to the Internet, campaigns that can energize large numbers of people will find it easier and easier to harness that enthusiasm and translate it into concrete results.