Obama's Social Media Advantage, both Presidential candidates used the web and social media tools to connect to their followers and organize their campaigns - but Obama got much more mileage out of it. Furthermore, after the election result Obama's team immediately launched change.gov. It's a new site for the President-Elect that appears to be crowdsourcing the political agenda, for example by asking the American people to share their stories and their goals.During the election season, Barack Obama's campaign got a lot of kudos for its use of social media tools. As we noted in our post entitled
Not to be outdone, or left behind, this week the Republican party launched a new website that makes use of social media tools. Let's take a look...
Described as a "grassroots Web site", RepublicanForAReason.com was developed by the Republican National Committee (RNC). It has similar aims to Obama's change.gov, in that it's a platform for supporters to share their opinions about the future direction of the party. As RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan said in a press release, "we need to hear what our volunteers, activists, elected leaders, and party members think about the Republican Party as we rebuild, re-focus, and renew our bond with the American people."
The homepage features a video (the first half of which is all Ronald Reagan), options to upload video or text to the site, a bright red 'Donate' button, a link to the party's Facebook group, and more. It even features an AddThis.com bookmarking pop-up widget.
Judging by the text and video entries uploaded so far, the site hasn't gotten major traction yet. There are 325 text entries and just 17 video entries. The site has a useful search filter and community ratings - although there's no apparent way to comment on individual submissions. The video section needs work; the screens are tiny and users need to click through to YouTube to view full-screen. And again there is no way to comment.
One noticeable difference between RepublicanForAReason.com and Obama's change.gov is that the content submissions for change.gov don't currently display on the public website. In fact there's no indication where those messages go and if they will be published at all. The change.gov blog asks readers to "keep sending your stories and we'll keep learning from them." But it'd be great if everything was published on the site. RepublicanForAReason.com appears to have no filter, which means it's open to be mocked by The Daily Show - but good on them for publishing the public's submissions.
Overall, RepublicanForAReason.com feels a little underdone - possibly rushed in response to the Obama campaign's dominating presence in social media. However we do give RepublicanForAReason.com points for being more open than change.gov in publishing public submissions.
Back in June, ReadWriteWeb reviewed the websites of Obama and McCain - and we came away impressed with both. We wrote that Obama's website was a tour de force of web magic, with seemingly every social networking base covered. McCain's website was impressive too - donations, calls to get involved, and social networking were features to the fore. So both parties have effectively used the Web this year - check out this article by Adult ADD Strengths for detailed stats - and are continuing to tap the Internet with new sites post-election.
Whatever your political persuasion, it's great to see politicians opening up for public stories and opinions using the Web. There's improvement needed on both RepublicanForAReason.com and change.gov, but soliciting the thoughts of citizens via the Web is a good start. Let's hope the politicians on both sides actually listen and respond to them.