Obama and Romney Presidential campaign teams launch innovative new social apps
The American presidential candidates have stepped up the online campaign in the last couple of days. Both incumbent President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney have chosen to launch mobile apps, although they do very different things.
While Obama has continued on from the 2008 and build a fully fledged campaigning app, Romney is using his to simply announce his Vice Presidential running mate.
The Obama app is called “Obama for America”, and includes a variety of tools to make campaigning easier. For examples users can look up local polling station information, or find out street and residency information to go canvassing. The app is also fully integrated with social media, as users can post Obama news to Facebook and Twitter, as well as invited friends to campaign events through the app.
Stephanie Cutter, Obama for America deputy campaign manager, commented:
“As we push through the last 100 days of this election, our focus remains on helping make grassroots organizing as easy and accessible as possible for the volunteers and supporters that are the heart and soul of this campaign.”
The app is trying to move street level campaigning on from old fashion clipboard and pen data collection. This is a speedier and more flexible way to do things, and the data can easily be transferred between State based campaign teams, the national campaign, and individual activists.
The Romney app, it must be said, is a lot less interesting, and has a lot less functionality – users simply get to know who the Vice Presidential pick is first, and the likelihood of this not leaking to the press is slim as speculation about who he will pick for the role is rife.
That said the app may though encourage more people to sign up and give the campaign their data, which is just as important to the campaign as the app itself.
Additionally, the Mitt VP app is available on both Android and iOS, while the Obama for America app is currently only available on iOS. While the Obama app will soon be rolled out for Android, this seems like a not significant error at launch, given the substantial (and growing,) number of Android devices being activated.
It’s obviously far too early to tell if these apps are going to be effective, as they were only released yesterday, but at least the campaigns are trying to innovate in the digital space, and use social media to communicate with activists and the public at large.
It does seem that the Obama team are still leading the way, building on the infrastructure of the previous campaign. I can see the basis of their apps being used by political activists in other countries.
As we wrote recently on The Wall the Obama campaign has the Obama Dashboard – the all singing all dancing way to connect volunteers together, to telephone canvas and track campaign progress as well as quite a lot else.
And we have also written about Obama’s use of hashtags as the White House pushed the #40dollars campaign.
“Obama’s YouTube feed, established in September 2006 when he was still just a senator for Illinois, now stands at 204,048,235 views. The scale of viewing underlines the growing importance of video as a political communications tool, as well as Obama’s own personal dominance in utilising the form.
“With campaigns moving increasingly online, video is now a core element of their thinking at all levels of US politics, from the presidential race down. The medium has the advantage of being popular, highly accessible and easy to share through social networks.”
These videos are normally pretty professional, although their are a few humanising talking head videos too, and have been put at the heart of the campaign. Most notably they include a 17 minute long documentary directed by Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim, and narrated by Tom Hanks, detailing the story of the Obama campaign and his first term as President.
Team Obama 100 Days