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Obama Vs. Clinton: What Their Web Sites Say About How They View You.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 14, 2008

When you go to a political website, are you treated as a “customer” when you make a contribution or as a “member?” There is a big difference between your “consumer experience” when you contribute to Hillary Clinton’s website or Barack Obama’s site and that might be suggesting how each candidate views your participation in the political life of the US.

John Sviokla’s site has a fascinating analysis of this issue. Hillary treats her supporters as “customers,” and Barack treats his as “members.”

So Hillary sees her supporters as a series of constituents with individual interests that she needs to meet and Barack sees his backers as members belonging to a mass movement. One is a traditional political model. The other is a more modern engagement model.

John’s analysis:
“…the two sites differ radically. On Obama’s I received “points” for creating a profile, making my profile public, logging in, befriending a link in my social network – which all told, puts me at 96,044th place in the universe. I can “climb” by engaging more–hosting events, linking to others, raising money and many other forms of participation. To anyone in the MySpace/Facebook generation this type of functionality is expected. In contrast, the Clinton web site gave me an identification like TzQ$, so I could make sure that any donations were tracked back to me – sounding just like old style “frequent purchaser” numbers that everyone from CVS to American Airlines uses.”

So it appears that Obama’s web folks understand that engagement is how you attract the peer-to-peer, attention-deficit, content-overloaded younger people of the Web. Money follows engagement.

There’s lots of talk about why your company should be a Facebook. Now, perhaps your political campaign should be a Facebook as well.

Reader Comments


January 15, 2008 1:16 AM

It is really interesting how websites can highlight expectations of a community. Its also makes me think about how while Obama's site might be compelling to younger folks, it might puzzle an older generation who aren't used to building communities online and haven't yet established social norms for that behavior. I would guess that Hillary's site could turn off folks who are accustomed to Facebook-like interactions. I wonder if Obama's will turn off folks who aren’t.

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