December 28, 2007

Republican Fred Thompson: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Fred Thompson Republican Presidential CandidateFred Thompson is next up in the reviews.  This man is just as well known for his acting career as much as his republican political career.  No other candidate's website has to compete with an IMDB profile, so that tells you a little something about Fred Thompson's presidential campaign website.  That also said, Thompson was also know for his "social skills" when he first campaigned for the Senate seat in Tennessee back in the 1990's.  Thompson went door to door driving his little red truck and spoke to thousands of Tennessee residents, face to face, hand shake to hand shake - social networking in action but without a computer.

I do need to admit, I love this man's voice, perhaps that's why I liked him on Law and Order, however, liking his voice won't affect the Online Marketing review. :)  So lets hop right to it.

Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies:

Fred Thompson for President Splash PageThe Fred Thomspon Presidential campaign website didn't have a splash page when I first visited it a few days ago.  Now, it's got a splash page that includes a video and a flash piece that features the "red truck" he associates with his campaign.  Whether this is temporary or not, I can't say, but it does seem to promote the fund raising goal for airing a commercial in Iowa.  The goal was set for sundown today, I'll likely come back to this in a few days to see if the splash page remains.

The other two reviews of candidates that had splash pages (Biden & Kucinich) I did, the splash page hinders the visitor getting to the information, almost making it seem like they have to give their email to get to the "Real Site".  Thompson however, takes a different approach with his splash page.  It's a video - non professional lighting (i.e. no staged YouTube video here with lighting and makeup), it seems just to be plain old Fred thanking his supporters.  The red truck piece is also included.  Still, it's devoid of actual text on the page.

Fred Thompson for President Main PageMoving onto the "Real Site", it looks like there was some attempt at SEO for the site, but it looks more like someone who read a book from 1999.  Looking at the code, the title tag is the same throughout all the pages, the meta description is also the same, and the keywords well that looks like the tag they put the most effort into - unfortunately any real SEO knows, it's the least likely to help.  Moving away from the code, to the actual content on the page, Fred Thompson has a similar problem to Dennis Kucinich's.  No where in the content (actual text on the page) is the phrase "Fred Thompson" found together other than in the "paid for" piece required.  It's either Fred or its Thompson.  There's no mention of him being a candidate for president in the content either.  When you look at the site you "get" that he's running for president, but the search engines can't see all those images.

Fred Thompson for President About Fred pageMoving onto the rest of the site, it doesn't get much better in the way of optimized content.  Looking at the About Fred section, only in the beginning is he referred to as "Fred Dalton Thompson".  90% of the time on all the other biography pages he's referred to as "Thompson".  Consequently if you did a search on Google for just "Thompson", the Fred08.com site ranks #1, but who searches for just "Thompson"?

As I stated above, no other candidate has to compete with the powerhouse IMDB for search rankings, Fred Thompson does.  From his Law & Order series, The Hunt for Red October and Days of Thunder movie roles (there were others as well), IMDB ranks higher in some cases than the .gov pages that feature his biography.  In most cases Thompson's site does rank number 1, however in Google, Yahoo, Ask and Live, IMDB appears every time.

One thing I did notice in addition to IMDB is that Fred Thompson actually has a YouTube video ranking #10 in Yahoo's results, and images come up first for him in Yahoo, as well.  He's the first candidate I've seen that actually has something other than a "news box" come up.  The images on Yahoo, look like they are from The Hunt for Red October movie but could be from some other movie or show.  Regardless, the photos are not from the campaign site as the site isn't optimized for search.  The YouTube video actually has the phrase "Fred Thompson" in its title (unlike the site).

There's not any indication of any real on page optimization on the site either.  They are utilizing the div tag to put in actual H1 text for the banner and replace it with "Fred '08".  I don't see that helping them for "Fred Thompson for President" or "Republican Candidate for President".  There's only one candidate right now that naturally ranks for their party and the term Candidate or Presidential Candidate, and it isn't Thompson nor Hunter, Biden nor Kucinich.
SEO Grade: D

Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies:

Fred Thompson Social Media PromotionFred Thompson is utilizing YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Facebook and MySpace.  He also promotes Twitter, as an avid Twitter user who added Thompson to follow when I saw he promoted it (I subscribe to a few presidential candidates to see how they don't really use it).  Fred Thompson's campaign doesn't really use Twitter.  Bit of a disappointment there. 

Fred Thompson's YouTube pageThompson is most active with YouTube and Flickr.  The Del.icio.us, Facebook and MySpace pages all looked to be active as well, but not with much activity (by their campaign) after around December 13th.  Unfortunately I don't know what the reason for the lax in working with these sites.  Flickr & YouTube though both have fresh content and the one video even ranks in the top ten on Yahoo for "Fred Thompson".

Like Joe Biden's campaign, Fred Thompson's Photo Gallery page incorporates the use of Flickr.  Thompson uses the slide show presentation, rather than just one picture at a time like Biden's site does.  This is a nice touch, and it looks to be one of the more frequently updated parts of the site.

The disappointment here is like Biden, the campaign doesn't promote the use of the "event" social sites like Eventuful, Meetup or Upcoming.  With someone who is so well known for getting out and shaking hand with supporters (and non-supporters), you'd think this would be at the top of their list.
Social Media Grade: A-

Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies:

Fred Thompson's PPC StrategyFinally I get to review a candidate that has a PPC campaign!  Albeit, only on the term "Fred Thompson" and only on Google (it does consequently show up on Ask), still Fred Thompson is using a Pay Per Click strategy for his campaign.

The opportunity that is lost here, not purchasing "Republican Candidate" or "Presidential Candidate", unless you know his name, you won't know that he's running for president.  That's pretty much across the board for all of the candidates.
PPC Grade: B

Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies:

Fred Thompson for President - Fred File BlogFred Thompson's campaign team are avid bloggers, and Fred himself even blogs.  Another nice touch is that they have translated a few videos that they house on YouTube into the blog posts.  Whoever told them to do that - smart move!

The "Fred File" blog is tough to get to from the front page, they really need to link that top graphic to link directly into the blog.  There's an RSS feed button there, but you have to actually click into a story listed on the main page to get to the blog, then navigate to the front page.  If you go into other pages in the site, you can navigate directly to the blog, so this is likely a small over site on the web development team.

When it comes to promoting the blog though, this team has it together.  There are social bookmarking, social news and even social networking links at the bottom of each post.  You can also choose to email the post to a friend.  In the columns that surround the posts you can do a number of things like sort by author (Fred included), sort by tags, view the most commented on posts as well as search the site.  The Fred File also allows comments, however you have to sign up to be a Friend of Fred to view the comments or make them.

The blog itself is very active, although not quite as active as Joe Biden's.  The blog posts do need some SEO tweaking, but that's very common among all the blogs of the presidential candidates.
Blogging Strategies Grade: A

Overall, the weakest point of the Fred Thompson Presidential campaign's online marketing strategy is the SEO.  If they could get that fixed, they could have a really good online marketing strategy going for them.
Overall Grade: B

Interested in seeing the other reviews so far?  Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republican Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

Democrat Joe Biden: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

*Editor's Note: This article was written before Joe Biden was selected as Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee.  JoeBiden.com is now being redirected over to BarackObama.com.  Take a look at "Republicans Miss Out Big for Sarah Palin in Online Marketing" on why this is important.

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The next Presidential Candidate for 2008 that is getting a review of their online marketing efforts is Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. Much like Dennis Kucinich and Duncan Hunter (and a few other candidates), Biden must compete against his own pages on a .gov site.  Not that this is a "bad" thing, but it can be a hindrance if the message you want to send is being usurped by a very powerful .gov site.

Unlike the previous two reviews, Senator Biden's campaign team seems to understand online marketing a little bit more.  Not much, but it definitely is a step in the right direction.  So lets take a look at what this campaign is doing.

Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Joe Biden for President Splash PageProbably one of my biggest annoyances with not just Biden's site but that of Kucinich, Obama, Richardson, and a few others is this Splash page nonsense.  Usability wise, it sucks, it's one more click I have to navigate through to get to the information, for people who are new to the web, it makes them think they need to sign up in order to get to the candidate's "real pages".  The problem with Biden's splash page, the only text on it is the "paid for..." text.  There's not even a properly formed title tag on this page, there is a meta description, but it's the same description that's on every page throughout the site.  So how is Google, Yahoo, Ask & Live coming up with the title tags and snippets they have, good question - does point to possible "hand tweaking" of the results in some engines (just a theory of course - I'm sure we could float many others out there), especially when Ask is showing this splash page's title as "Unite Out States" which is a value in a hidden input and that's "uniteourstates".

Joe Biden for President Main PageMoving onto the true "main page" of the site, we finally have a title tag and we actually do have some text.  The first text that is shown is pulled from Joe Biden's blog, this shows up in Google's search results as the snippet for the page (it's shown as a separate entry when search for "Joe Biden"), Live search pulls the same, but isn't as up-to-date as Google.  There are flash pieces, but these pieces hold videos, not content like on the Kucinich site, so much is not being lost in these areas.

Joe Biden for President Meet Joe Biden PageI then looked around the rest of the site, and some of the pages have unique title tags, some do not.  As stated before, the meta descriptions are all the same for the site.  But most basic search engine optimization features are being utilized, such as the H1 tag.  Looking at the "Meet Joe Biden" page, they even "get" the fact they shouldn't just call him "Joe" or refer to him as just "Biden", they've got both names throughout the content of the page.

Overall, the SEO isn't all that bad, it could use some tweaking to improve it, especially if they wanted to rank for more than just "Joe Biden".  What about "Democrat for President" or "2008 Presidential Candidate", "Democrat Front Runners", "Against the War in Iraq" - all of these are potential key phrases that have a lot of searches that Biden's campaign has missed out on.
SEO Grade: B-

Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

When it comes to Social Media, Joe Biden's definitely using it, and is even integrating it into his site.  Not just with the widgets/button, but actually utilizing it to generate content on his site.  What he displays prominently is Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace.  Most of these accounts reflect the style of the campaign, and are consistent with their messages when the social sites allow it.  Biden also has an additional social media site he promotes, but only on his MySpace page, and that's a widget for the DNC's social site "Party Builder".

Joe Biden's Flickr IntegrationJoe Biden actually integrates his Flickr photo stream into his site.  Using pictures from the photo stream to fill the "Photo Gallery" page on the campaign site.  The Flickr profile is quite active as well, lots of sets with lots of new, updated pictures.  You can scroll through the pictures either on the Photo Gallery page or on Flickr itself, this is a nice touch and something not a lot of candidates have thought to do.

If anything is really missing from Biden's social media efforts its working with and promoting "Event" social sites like Meetup, Eventful or Upcoming.  These are great places that allow both fellow supporters and the candidates themselves to gather together, organize and show their support of the candidate.  It also can give the candidate an idea of possible strong holds of voter support where they might not have ever known about.
Social Media Grade: A-

Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

There's no visible PPC strategies for the Biden campaign.  Nothing is being done ad-wise for his name or for any of his opponents on the democrat side.  I find this is a missed opportunity, especially for terms that go beyond just "Joe Biden" or misspellings of his name.  Especially since the campaign website does need some work to rank for key word phrases beyond just his name.  Biden isn't alone here, on both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, many candidates are just leaving this opportunity on the table.
PPC Grade: F

Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Joe Biden for President Blog Good news, Joe's got a blog.  Even better news you can subscribe to it, it's just that you can't find an RSS button or link on the main page of the blog.  There are RSS buttons on the main page of the campaign's site, and also links on the individual posts, but it would be helpful just to put a small RSS link or button on the blog's main page to boost up subscribers.

The blog is predominantly written by Erin Medlicott, whom I'm going to guess is part of the campaign team.  There are posts from Katie Crozier, and a "Wes",  but a links on to these names to who they are in relation to the campaign would be a help in understanding the perspective of the blog, since it appears that Joe Biden hasn't written too many posts (I couldn't find any before December).

The blog is very active with multiple posts each day.  That's a lot!  Compared to most other candidates, this is probably one of the most active political candidate blogs out there.  The blog is also interactive, readers can comment, and a nice touch is that they actually "shout out" to readers and thank them for sending in articles they find about Joe Biden.

Where the blog lacks is in the social media promotion department.  There are no social bookmarking, social news or StumbleUpon links to make it easy for readers to interact with those social sites to promote articles they think are great.  The blog could also use some SEO tweaking as well.  Overall though this is a good blog, and it definitely shows that they candidate has put some good hard work into its development.
Blogging Strategies Grade: A

Overall, SEO, Social Media, PPC and Blogging included, the campaign's marketing efforts are not all that bad.  The one glaring sore spot is the PPC Strategies as the missed opportunity.  Both the Social Media and the Blogging really carry this online marketing strategy, it would just be even better if they could complete it with a better SEO Strategy and do a little PPC.
Overall Grade: B

December 27, 2007

Update On Political Marketing Series

By Li Evans

Due to prior engagements on my part, I was unable to get the next two reviews out for 12/27.  We'll be picking right up tomorrow morning (12/28) with 2 more reviews!

Sometimes, real life tends to grab hold and doesn't let you back at the keyboard in time! :)

December 26, 2007

Republican Duncan Hunter: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Duncan Hunter Campaign PictureThe next review in Search Marketing Gurus "2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies" series is an in-depth look at the online marketing strategies of Republican Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter.    From blogging, SEO, PPC to Social Media, I examined Hunter's presidential campaign website, looking at what strategies were in place.

Hunter's review will be a lot like the review of Dennis Kucinich's Online Marketing Strategies.  Each area will have a grade, and then form an overall grade.  So now lets take a look at what this Republican candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election is pulling together for his online marketing strategy.

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Duncan Hunter Front PageUnlike many of his opponents, Duncan Hunter's site does not have a Splash page that seems to force the visitor to sign up for an email list or to "join the campaign".  Yes, I do realize these splash pages, give the option to go directly to the site but it just seems so "obsolete".  So kudos to this campaign site for skipping the splash page.

So there is the bright spot, unfortunately for this site, although not quite as bad as Kucinich's, it still is in need of some serious Search Engine Optimization (SEO) help.  The use of video and javascript features and tack on a site mostly consisting of images, it makes it tough to even find the phrase "Duncan Hunter" until you are 3/4 of the way down the page, in actual readable text.  Plus is that there is a decent title tag on the home page that can help the search engines determine, that yes indeed this is about Duncan Hunter.

There is use of videos within the website, but what the site lacks is an explanation about the videos.  A short snippet of actual text right underneath the videos would go a long way in helping the site's optimization as well as helping the video's to gain a little relevancy as well.

Duncan Hunter Values PageTaking a look at a few other pages in the Duncan Hunter Presidential campaign site, again the thing that stood out to me, is the lack of "Duncan Hunter" phrases.  For example on the "Where I Stand" page, I keep coming back to "Who Stands for This".  There's a lot of "I's" and "we's", unfortunately to the search engines, they really need to relate the name to the page's content.  When the title tags are pretty much repeated the same over the site, save for 2 or 3 words, it doesn't do much in the way of helping the site's optimization.

There is one other "bright" spot in the optimization of the Duncan Hunter site, and this should make the usability folks happy.  The Hunter campaign actually took the time to put in "alternative" text for the alt attribute of the images on the site.  However I highly doubt this was done for optimization reasons, since the title attribute is also there on most of the images.

In the search results Duncan Hunter faired much better than Dennis Kucinich (my theory is that his Title Tag is better and that's bout it).  In searches for his name on all 4 of the search engines Duncan Hunter's campaign site is usually in the 1st position or within the top 3, surrounded closely by his .gov site pages.
SEO Grade: D+

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Duncan Hunter Social Media WidgetsI'm happy to report, Duncan Hunter does know what a widget is.  He proudly displays a few on his GoHunter08.com campaign site, too.  YouTube, MySpace and Facebook all are displayed quite prominently in the site's right hand column.  One common mistake though that I'm seeing in a lot of these candidates' sites is that their social media widgets/buttons aren't working right.  Currently Duncan Hunter's Facebook link takes you login for Facebook, not the Duncan Hunter Facebook page.

Unfortunately there's not an extensive use of Social Media by the Hunter campaign.  The most "built out" profile is on YouTube where it is designed to reflect the campaign.  The MySpace profile also seems to have had some work done to it, but nothing like the YouTube profile.  The Facebook profile, is in need of some serious attention.  The one thing these candidates need to remember is that if you are going to promote a profile or a group in social media, you better make sure its up to date and active - otherwise, don't bother (you'll see this from a few other candidates).
Social Media Grade: C-

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Unfortunately, there's no PPC strategy to report.  This is actually kind of sad in a sense, I didn't know about this candidate - AT ALL, until I started this research.  If they'd spend a little money on PPC campaigns buying other Republican candidates' names, it might have helped to boost Hunter's name recognition a bit.  I have searched before on the front runners on both sides of the aisle, if I would have seen an ad for Hunter, I would have clicked in to find out more about him.  This campaign is missing a huge opportunity here.
PPC Grade: F

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Much like the PPC strategy, there's no blogging strategy.  Unless you consider the YouTube videos sort of a video blog, but that's a bit of a stretch.  Again, another huge opportunity to connect with visitors and "the base" of consituents.
Blogging Grade: F

There's a lot of missed opportunities this campaign totally lost out on, from SEO, PPC to Blogging, a lot has been left on the table.  It is disappointing when you can see a lot of potential that was just missed because the candidate did not take the time to invest in a good online strategy that can reach out and touch potential voters.

Overall Grade: D-

Democrat Dennis Kucinich: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Dennis Kucinich Campaign PhotoFirst up in the "2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies" series is a deep look at the online marketing strategies of Democrat Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich.    I examined Kucinich's presidential campaign website, looking at Search Engine Optimization elements, Social Media promotion and also looked at the search engines to see if the Kucinich campaign was doing any type of PPC spending on any of the engines.

Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Talk about a site in need of search engine optimization help!  It's obvious when you look at this site, it was built from a graphic artist or advertising agency's perspective.  No thought into how the site could be found in the search engines was ever put into the planning of the site.  Any usability that might help the site out optimization wise, is non-existent as well. 

Dennis Kucinich Splash PageFirst off, there's something with these presidential candidates and these nasty "splash" pages.  First off these splash pages hold no relevant content at all for any of their websites (yes, more than just Kucinich has a splash page).  Kucinich's site has a big form to sign up newsletter updates (to bad that's in an image and unreadable by a search engine spider), then it has an image button that links to the "home" page of the "new" site.

Dennis Kucinich home PageNow when you finally get to the "main" page, you find a host of things that would just make any SEO or Usability Expert go into spasms.  Title tags that just don't do a thing for a site.  Flash components that house a ton of good content (too bad it can't be read by the spider), no where in the top half of the page is there the actual words "Dennis Kucinich" or "Kucinich for President" or "Kucinich Democrat Candidate for President" that a search engine's spider could actually read.  In fact, a search engine might actually think this site was more about his wife Elizabeth Kucinich, rather than about him.

Dennis Kucinich About Dennis PageWith that in mind, I decided to look at the "About Dennis" page.  Again, nothing about "Dennis Kucinich" or that he's a candidate for President of the United States.  I look at the page and see it as a search engine spider would, and I do not see the phrase "Dennis Kucinich", there's "Virginia Kucinich".  The phrase "Dennis Kucinich isn't found till nearly 3/4 of the way down the page.

Dennis Kucinich Yahoo SearchSo how does that affect things in the search engines?  Well in Google he's fine, his campaign site ranks #1 for his name.  But he doesn't come up for "2008 Presidential Candidate" nor for "Democrat Presidential Candidate".  In Yahoo, Ask & Microsoft's Live, his campaign site tends to fall well below a lot of other sites about him, including his .gov site and an older campaign site who's domain is his whole name.
SEO Grade: F

Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Looking at Dennis Kucinich's site, you'd wonder if this candidate had ever heard of Facebook or Myspace.  This site is so unlike any of the other presidential candidate sites, it is totally devoid of allowing visitors to know whether or not they can connect with the campaign in some way through a social network.  Yes, there is a "Mobile" button, but Mobile, isn't a social networking site.

So, you wonder, does this candidate have any profiles on the social sites?  Yes, actually he does, and I found them because on Yahoo, Ask & Live, sometimes these profile pages rank higher than his own campaign site.

I found all of the above, not through the Dennis4President.com site, I found them through my own research.  Talk about leaving a lot on the table.  As I said in my post yesterday describing this series, there's one candidate who doesn't know what a widget is, and that would be Dennis Kucinich.  While he may not know what a widget is or how to promote his social media activities, he doesn't get a totally failing grade, since someone from his campaign was wise enough to set up a MySpace and Facebook page.
Social Media Grade: D

Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Zilch, Nada, Non-Existent, Big Fat Zero!  If this campaign is spending anything in PPC, it's really tough to find.  You would think that with his campaign site not ranking in the top spots on Yahoo, Ask or Live, someone might get a clue and sink just a little money into buying ads on his name.

Then there's the whole misspelling issue.  Let me tell you, I didn't get how to spell his name right the first couple of times searching.  Buying the ads for how his name is commonly misspelled would help out those potential voters find him a lot easier.
PPC Strategy Grade: F

Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site:  Blogging Strategies

There is some good news in this area. They have a blog.  Well if you want to call it that.  A lot of the posts are previously posted on a blogspot blog (www.whynotdennis.blogspot.com) and written by Deborah Emin.  Beyond the duplicate content issues that could arise, there's not much wrong with this, other than the fact you don't know who Deborah Emin is in relation to the campaign.  You also never see posts by Dennis nor his wife Elizabeth, not like other candidates who do post in their blogs.

Now if the good news is that they have a blog, there's not much else that's good about it.  No RSS subscription buttons, comments aren't allowed, you can't easily submit these to social news sites, social bookmarking sites or to StumbleUpon because the posts of devoid of those types of buttons.  There's also no way to view any older blog posts than December 15th, 2007.
Blogging Strategy Grade: D

So what's the overall verdict with Dennis Kucinich's Presidential Campaign website and it's online marketing efforts?  It's in total and absolute need of help - all around.  It's too bad no one took a look at this before, being so close to the beginning of the primary and caucus seasons, there's likely not much that could help this campaign now.

Overall Grade:  D-

December 25, 2007

2008 Presidential Candidates' Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Presidentialcampaigns The 2008 Presidential Campaign trail is hotter than ever with two states (New Hampshire and Iowa) holding a primary and a caucus within the next two weeks.  With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at what each of the contenders were doing online when it comes to 4 areas of online marketing.

  • 2008 Presidential Campaign Blogging
  • 2008 Presidential Campaign Social Media Strategies
  • 2008 Presidential Campaign SEO Strategies
  • 2008 Presidential Campaign PPC Strategies

Last year I wrote a pretty popular post entitled "Barack Obama Doesn't Know What a Widget Is", and earlier this year another popular post entitled "Republican Presidential Front Runner Websites Leave A Lot On The Table".  I also covered the things you can't control such as 2008's Rogue Element - The Candidate Evangelist.  All of these types of marketing areas can affect a candidates perception to online world, both in good ways and bad ways. 

So now, a year later, how are they doing now?  Well I'm happy to say, Barack Obama now knows what a widget it, so do 99% of the candidates (hey there's always got to be one right?).  There's a lot of efforts going into the major social media sites.  MySpace, Facebook, Flickr & YouTube, seem to be the consistent favorites among the 2008 Presidential Candidates on both sides of the aisle.  There are definitely clear winners, and clear losers when it comes to knowing how to utilize networks, online communities and speaking to their captivated audiences.

Over the next week, I'm going to highlight 14 candidates 7 Democrats & 7 Republicans.  Totally an unbiased political opinion, purely from a online marketing view.  Will the Republican front runners still leave a lot on the table?  Has Hillary Clinton gotten over that Apple commercial spoof?  Did Dennis Kucinich's admission of seeing a UFO hurt him in the rankings?  Is Ron Paul, really the internet "phenom" he's been touted to be? How are the candidates fairing in Universal (Blended) Search?

Each day I'll be taking  a deep look at 1 Republican's site and 1 Democrat's site.   Here's the list I'll be drawing from, but not reporting on them in this order:

Check the Political Internet Marketing category for the updates as I post each analysis of the 2007 Presidential Candidates to this category .

Update:  1/4/08 Joe Biden and Chris Dodd announced they've dropped out of the campaign

March 22, 2007

2008's Rogue Element - The Candidate Evangelist

By Li Evans

Right off the heels of my review of the Republican Front Runners' websites, news of a video launched on YouTube that spoofs the famous Apple commercial appeared to be the hot topic on the campaign trail in the last two days.  The video's intent is to portray Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton as "big brother" and at the end, there's a mocked up apple logo - turned into the shape of an "O", with www.barackobama.com underneath it.

Of course Barack Obama's camp got the blame for creating this online guerrilla marketing piece, and of course the Obama camp denied involvement (they of course did not deny laughing about it).  Turns out, they really didn't have anything to do with it.  It was just a supporter, ironically, armed with ... of all things, a Mac and its powerful video editing software.

Phildevellishuggintonpost So who is this guerrilla political marketer that created the "Vote Different" video?  Well the Huffington Post got the scoop on that.  His name is Phillip de Vellis, and he contends that he's proud of what he did.  He was employed by Blue State Media that does provide services to the Obama camp, but he resigned from that company.  Blue State Media, however, contends that he was fired.

This campaign is beginning to shake out to be one where these candidates are going to have to become more technically savvy about monitoring their reputation online, or make sure their online marketing staff is that savvy.  What's probably the most telling about all of this, was the fact that it was someone, who wasn't paid for their efforts, they were just a staunch supporter of one candidate.

Soapbox With technology making it quite easy for "the common folk" to get their voice heard as well as social media giving anyone the easiest platform to speak up, these candidates NEED to become mindful of that.  Not only does social media give these candidates a great platform that's a lot cheaper than TV and a great way to reach a segment of the population that they probably couldn't reach before and start a conversation with them, there's something else these candidates are forgetting.  Social media also gives supporters of their opponents a place to start a conversation - one they cannot control and one that could potentially become much louder than theirs.

Do you think that this "1984" Hilary spoof on the Apple commercial is the last we'll see?  I highly doubt it, I think de Vellis exposed a very serious problem for these candidates, the element of the supporters' passion and willingness to express it.  The new "online marketing guerrillas" aren't these overpaid political consultants the candidates hire.  These new marketers are a rogue elements, they are passionate supporters of candidates who don't receive a dime for their creations - and that folks is going to be a major unknown element in the 2008 campaign.  These "Candidate Evangelists" (new term coined here!) are going to be a force and a factor that these candidates need to deal with up until November 2008.

March 20, 2007

Republican Presidential Front Runner Websites Leave A Lot On The Table

By Li Evans

Whitehouse We're still well over a year away from "Decision '08", but that hasn't stopped aspiring presidents from announcing their candidacies on platforms like YouTube.  Online political marketing for 2008 presidential campaigns got their kick start when John Edwards was first out of the gate with his announcement to seek the democratic nomination for president airing on YouTube. By in large, the democratic candidates have become quite savvy internet marketers, and yes, Barack Obama now knows what a widget is (or at least his internet team does!).

What about the republicans?  John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney - officially those are the ones we know about, how are they using internet marketing, social media and search?  Compared to their democrat counterparts, they are leaving a lot on the table.  I took a look at these three front runners and came away thinking, they really need some serious help when stacked up to Edwards, Clinton and Obama.

Below is a quick synopsis on how these three front runners stack up:

John McCain's Presidential Campaign Website:  www.JohnMcCain.com
Johnmccainsplash Natural Search:  There's a reason why when you type in "John McCain" into Google, this website doesn't come up, it's first page, on first visit is entirely in Flash.  However, a 2nd visit back to the site, you no longer get the splash page because a cookie tacked on in the first visit tells the site to present the "real" home page.  Title Tags for the website are all the same.  Content is really lacking, meaning actual "text" a spider could read (if it could get to the pages in the first place).    Rating: D
PPC:  Campaign seems to be limited to his name.  Obviously since the site doesn't rank naturally for "John McCain" they have to get visitors to the site who are searching for him.   Rating: C
Social Media: This is the site's and campaign's strongest feature.  They have a deep social networking program being run here.  From creating your own blog and "JohnMcCainSpace" on the site, to a YouTube and Veoh channel, they've definitely got a handle on the social media mix. Rating: A

Rudy Giuliani's Presidential Exploratory Committee Website:  www.JoinRudy2008.com
Joinrudy2008site Natural Search: Rudy Giuliani's exploratory committee's website fairs a lot better than McCain's when it comes to ranking for "Rudy Giuliani".  The site is a mixture of content and images, however heavier to the image side.  Places where they could capitalize on utilizing keywords, those words are embedded in images.  Where they could break out content and capitalize on focusing around special key words, they combine all the information, thus making pages with no real key word focus, that makes the inner pages tough to rank for much of anything beyond "Rudy Guliani."  Rating C+
PPC:  Like McCain, the campaign is limited to his spending for ads to appear when Rudy's name is searched on.  Rating C
Social Media: If one would qualify RSS feeds in with Social Media, then they have one element.  However, other than the RSS feeds, there's no elements of social media on the site at all.  Rating D

Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign Website: www.MittRomney.com
Mittromneyforpresidentsite Natural Search: Of the three candidates, Romney's site has the best natural search optimization.  That being said, it's still leaves a lot to be desired.  There is definitely room for improvement and keyword research & implementation for this site could catapult it to the next level.  There's a nice mix/balance of images and content - it just needs to be more focused.  Rating B+
PPC:  No difference than the other two, ppc campaign just focuses on "Mitt Romney" (not even just Mitt - Rudy does just "Rudy).  Rating C
Social Media:  Mitt's site promotes his Facebook and his own YouTube channel, but that's the extent of use of social media.  There is a section called "Mitt TV" but, that's totally interactive media, nothing social about it.  Rating B-

Overall these sites are leaving so much behind.  Whether it's not capitalizing on simple searches like "republicans for president" or even misspellings of their name in natural and paid search, they should start beefing up their sites and PPC campaigns.

Social Media wise, McCain by far is ahead of this particular pack.  However, not one of these candidates have their own blog.  All of their democratic counterparts have them and they are all rather popular.  John McCain has a "Blog" link on his site, but it leads you to the social media part where you, yourself, could create your own blog on John McCain's site.

Presidential_seal When it comes to online marketing, the republicans have a long way to go.  Lucky for them November 2008 is well over a year away and they have some time to beef up their sites and implement new online strategies that could counter what the democrats are doing.  If the race for president were held today, I'm pretty certain more people on the web are aware of the democrats and their websites, than the republicans - who do you think that would fair better for?

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