March 11, 2009

President Barack Obama & His Social Media Agenda in the First 50 Days

By Li Evans

President-barack-obama Quietly, without trumpets, fan fare, ticker tape parades or walks outside of the limo that give the secret service heart attacks, President Barack Obama has been changing the way the executive branch of the government does business online.  Not only that he's influencing the other branches, in particularly the legislator, both Congress & Senate.

In the first 50 days of his presidency President Obama's team has pushed forward a number of new sites to help citizens of the United States understand better what the President and his staff are doing. This was something we have never seen before, all we ever got before was a static WhiteHouse.gov site that people continually tried to Google Bomb for "miserable failure".

I stated back in November that President Barack Obama was going to be "Our First Social Media President", within the first 50 days of this presidency he's sure living up to that moniker I tacked on him (sure hope he doesn't mind).  We also know that Blackberry is sure thankful for the free press, since he wouldn't give up his and got that super dooper James Bond one.  Besides the Blackberry, in the first 50 days of his presidency, President Obama and his team have launched a number of new sites above and beyond just WhiteHouse.gov and that's what I'd like to focus on today, along with some other things.

Continue reading "President Barack Obama & His Social Media Agenda in the First 50 Days" »

November 05, 2008

Barack Obama The First Social Media President?

By Li Evans

BarackObama.com After the Presidential WinYesterday was probably one of the most exciting days of this year, if not the past 4 when it comes to the possibilities of emerging media being pushed to the forefront and actually being a factor in something very important in not just our nation's history but quite possibly world history.  Yes, the United States elected its first African American president, but it also elected its first president to utilize technologies beyond email or a cell phone to office to just raise campaign donations.

Barack Obama is the first "Social Media President" in history.  He's the first one to understand and harness the power of sharing and communicating through social media platforms to not only get out his message, but to energize a group of Americans into action.  Of course it wasn't just Barack alone, it was his campaign team that focused in and realized the power and reach utilizing different aspects of web technologies could bring them.  It wasn't just one social media site used either, it was everything working in conjunction with one another, complementing each other and promoting the same singular message of the Change that can happen if people on these sites helped to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America. 

One of my sources on the inside told me that it was some of the people who were on Dean's 2004 campaign team that came in and built upon what they knew, and that doesn't surprise me in the least.  Not only did they learn the power of the infamous "Dean Scream" hitting YouTube, but they learned the power of fundraising and brought that to the Obama campaign, improved on it and turned it into a finely tuned machine.  So much so that the majority of Obama's donations came from donors giving $200 and under.

So what kind of technology did Obama use? Let's take a quick, deep look at what was implemented.

Continue reading "Barack Obama The First Social Media President?" »

November 04, 2008

Listening to Conversations About Social Media While Waiting in Line to Vote

By Li Evans

Voting Line in Limerick, PAI stood in line 30 minutes to vote this morning.  I've NEVER had to do that.  The line trailed out of the township building, turned down the sidewalk, then turned again and trailed into the parking lot back behind the township building.  I snapped the picture you see here, while standing in line waiting.  Then a poll worker came out and started to direct those people who's last names were A to G, my luck was good then!

They had made three separate lines for voters - A-G, H-R, S-Z, that seemed to ease up the lines a bit, but they still were out past the sidewalk and into the parking lot when I left after voting.

I live in one of those counties that is on the fringe of Philadelphia, traditionally these areas lean Republican.  I stood in line, and it could have just been my timing, but what I heard was amazing to me.  People actually talking about this candidate's website, or that candidate's video, and even a mention or two of MySpace pages.

The people in line weren't college age people either, we're talking 30 and above, and even 50 and above.  I had to rub my eyes to believe what I was seeing and hearing.  These people in line were talking about online social media sites, in a total offline environment and how those sites affected how they saw the candidates and the information they pulled from it.

If there's any proof to me that this election has put a spotlight on social media to the general public, standing in a voting line today was it!  Talk about word of mouth marketing at its finest!

October 31, 2008

Obamafy Your Next Campaign

By Y.M. Ousley

Whether or not you agree with his policies or views, Barack Obama has unarguably run an exceptionally well marketed campaign. Using the internet to build support isn't new – Howard Dean, Ron Paul both built early support online. But Obama's campaign is a study in turning the online support into action that every marketer can take a page from.

A list of strategies to replicate in your next campaign

Establish a benefit early, emphasize it often

Change. For nearly all of his campaign, Obama has been the candidate for change. No matter if you think he would be a change for the better or worse, when most Americans hear the word “change,” they associate that message with one candidate.

There weren't always details of exactly what would change, how it would affect you or your family, and perhaps on purpose. Strange as it sounds, (good) branding sells products by not focusing on products. Economic policy, foreign relations policy, energy policy – all very important products that both candidates are trying to sell to voters, but most people aren't voting for the individual products, they're voting for the brand. Obama established himself as the brand of change very early on, and his campaign repeats it often. For many, this establishes consistency and reliability. That doesn't mean it will sway everyone – McCain supporters may view him as consistently and reliably wrong with respect to their view, but his brand benefit is easy to identify.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

The more products you sell, the greater the need to build your brand. Start establishing a message of your site as a whole entity, rather than one that's a sum of parts. For Amazon, it's been fulfillment – once exclusively for books, now for everything from electronics to web hosting. For Zappos, it's customer service – once exclusively for shoes, now for clothes. Whatever your benefit, drive it into everything you do internally or externally.

Call to action, make it easy to act

I'm registered to vote in Washington, DC, but won't be there on November 4th. Months ago, I saw a (likely geo-targeted) banner reminding me of absentee voting deadlines and dates. I submitted my information online, received instructions for submitting the official documents, and later received my ballot. To receive subsequent information from Obama I simply had to check a box.

The branding will not make a difference if people aren't driven to action. By showing the absentee voting ads to people outside the US with deadlines, there was a clear call to action. In responding, the process clearly guided potential voters to the end result: registering to vote, or requesting absentee ballots.

If I visit the website now, the first page I see is a donation form. Any question what the Obama campaign wants from visitors? For a campaign that is one of the best funded in recent history, it appears the call to action is clear.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

Whether your traffic comes from organic search, paid search, affiliates, banners or branding, make it easy for people to act. I recently saw an ad encouraging me to “shop now” for Nanette Lepore clothing at Bergdorf Goodman. So I clicked the ad. Instead of going to a section featuring the top in the ad, or other clothing from Nanette Lepore, I ended up at a page of Wear to Work tops. Huh?

If I'm particularly dedicated, I could click through 12 pages of tops, or try to figure out where the Nanette Lepore page is in the general menu, or... try my search at ShopStyle, or even Google, or just close the window and go back to the website I was reading.

Very few will have the type of ongoing press or funding of a presidential campaign. As a marketer, you don't have unlimited time with your audience. For the moment that you manage to hold their attention, or distract them from the numerous other things they have to do, it's your responsibility to make doing business with you as easy as possible. If you want people to buy, don't send them to a page encouraging them to browse. If you want readers to return, encourage them at the start of the article to subscribe to your feed or sign up for a newsletter. If you want a link to a special section or report, give people a copy and paste code.

No matter how easy the process, not everyone will vote, not everyone will buy, subscribe or link. But you stand to get far more votes, sales, readers or links if you remove barriers that make it difficult.


Stay in touch

I signed up for the Barack Obama newsletter when I submitted my information for my absentee ballot, and boy did they keep in touch. Newsletters, alerts, blog feeds – most people get so many emails or messages everyday that the natural instinct is not to add to the noise. But going against the natural instinct can be an incredibly effective marketing strategy.

Since I signed up, I've received at least one email every day. The subjects are different – some encourage me to donate, others to make campaign calls to voters in swing states, and some inviting me to rallies. They've been from the same address, but are authored (according to the from line) by Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, campaign manager David Plouffe, and the list goes on. I don't always have time to read each email, but every week at least one subject line or sender usually stands out.

How do you use this as an online marketer?

Build your list. Email marketing is old and familiar. In getting to know the young(er) and sexy marketing methods of search, social media and mobile it's often overlooked, but is absolutely still relevant. Google, Facebook, MySpace are pervasive, but for near 100% penetration of people online, email is still the killer app of choice.

I don't have formal studies to support (if you know of any, please leave in the comments), but I'd gamble that for as much time as you spend on your 2.0 site of choice (twitter, friendfeed, facebook, etc), you spend as much or more time on email. So does your audience.

Staying in touch without being a pest can be difficult, but frequency works. Sure, you'll get people who unsubscribe, but even if you emailed once every blue moon, you'd still get people who leave. Anecdotally speaking, you'll have far more people who stay. Generally speaking, you have one chance to make your pitch to someone who clicks on one of your ads (text or otherwise) or search listings. Generally speaking, you have 365 chances to make your pitch to someone who joins your mailing list. You don't have to be a math whiz to like the odds of email. The Obama campaign has taken this a step further with mobile updates for important announcements and live events. The only discouragement against frequency here would come for countries where users are likely to pay a significant amount to receive text or mobile updates.


Even McCain supporters admit admiration for the success of Obama's campaign. From the amount of money raised, to the extent the internet's been used to build, maintain and grow support. There are many other parts which I give kudos to as a marketer – the 30 minute infomercial, product placement. Politics aside, it's been a phenomenal integrated marketing campaign with contributions from many mediums. While few of us will have the budget or level of press to replicate to the letter, it's certainly within reason to duplicate some of the results in your next online campaign.


Disclaimer: I became an Obama supporter shortly after the RNC. He also resides in the same Chicago neighborhood where my family lives, but hasn't palled around with me (Ylayn Meredith the Marketer).

September 02, 2008

Republicans Miss Out Big for Sarah Palin in Online Marketing

By Li Evans

When Not Owning www.SarahPalin.com Can Cost You Votes

On Friday, I was as shocked as probably the rest of the country when John McCain chose a total dark horse for his Vice Presidential nominee.  Sarah Palin is a virtual unknown in political circles outside of her home state of Alaska, where she presides as Governor.

However, after the initial shock wore off, I put on my online marketer thinking cap and I went to work trying to find out more about Sarah Palin.  Other than the official Governor of Alaska bio, there's not much "official" stuff out there.  She doesn't even have her own domain name showing up in the results on the search engines.

I then went to www.sarahpalin.com and below is a screen cap of what I got.

Screen Capture of www.sarahpalin.com

So you get a 403 Forbidden error, nice job there McCain's team!  I went a step further to see if they just haven't moved fast enough to redirect her domain over to www.johnmccain.com like the democats have done for Joe Biden's website - www.joebiden.com now redirects over to www.barakobama.com (Barack Obama's official site), with a special page announcing he's the vice presidential nomiee for the democratic ticket.  Unfortunately speed or even techincal glitches aren't the problem here for the Republicans.

Continue reading "Republicans Miss Out Big for Sarah Palin in Online Marketing" »

April 17, 2008

Twitter & the Democratic Presidential Candidates

By Li Evans

Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds.  It is starting to reach into the main stream, especially when you consider how even the 2008 Presidential Candidates are using it to get the message out about their campaigns.  I looked at all three candidates presently still alive in the race, Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama on the Democrat side, and John McCain on the Republican side and how they used twitter. 

Twitter Search for 'John McCain'I wanted to be fair and show both sides, but when I went and looked at all three, and I couldn't find the "official" Twitter page for John McCain. However, I did find two popular ones McCain News & JohnMcCain2008.  Not sure who it is that really has the John McCain Twitter account, but its obviously not the John McCain running for President.  Searches on Twitter for John McCain don't produce the official twitter account either.  Since that campaign isn't utilizing Twitter at this point as a campaign tool, I'm just going to focus on the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton & Twitter

Hillary Clinton's Twitter Information I sit here at my keys wondering how to start this.  Well you know that term "elitist" that's been tossed around these days before the upcoming Pennsylvania primary?  Well if you looked at Twitter, you honestly would be thinking the opposite of what the press tells us here in Pennsylvania (mind you I take what the press tells me with a grain of salt) or this candidate.  When you look at Hillary Clinton's Twitter account, you see that she follows NO ONE.  Seriously, no one. 

Then there's the Hillary Clinton Twitter account for her MySpace page.  Alright, that one does a little bit better, they are following one person on twitter (as of this writing).  There are a bunch of other Twitter accounts out there about Hillary Clinton as well and those fare better in the way of following their followers. 

Hillary Clinton's Twitter Feed Talk about wanting to put out a very controlled message.  Everything that comes into the Hillary Clinton Twitter account is a reflection of her blog, but added with the words "I am" or "I'm".  There's no opportunity for two way conversations when you think of it, and there's nothing more than what's on her blog.  It's all about delivering the "spin" in a very tight, precise and controlled fashion - typical of "old politics" and how they like to run campaigns.  Trouble is - we're in a new world now and on the internet there's not a lot you can control when you enter the Social Media realm.  It's also why it doesn't appeal to the younger set of voters, they see this as typical "old politics" - not the opportunity to have their voice heard.

There are a lot of other Hillary Clinton based or themed Twitter accounts out there.  When you do a search on Hillary Clinton in the Twitter site you return 12 results, and the official Hillary Clinton Twitter account doesn't appear to near the bottom of the page.  Some of these are detractors (take a look at the icon for third result in this screen capture of the search results for 'Hillary Clinton'), but some are fans and supportors that are reporting on the news that Clinton is making in the media.  These accounts actually are engaging in conversation about Hillary Clinton, unfortunately for the Clinton campaign they can't control it.

Barack Obama & Twitter

Barack Obama's Twitter Information By contrast, you look at the Barack Obama Twitter account and you see this account is following just as many as are following him (sometimes it falls behind).  Who ever is running the account (I find it hard to believe that either candidate is "Twittering" like us "somewhat normal" folks are), is actively engaging in following people who choose to follow them, and they are twittering in a way that isn't as controlled.

If you look at the type of Tweets that are coming out of the Barack Obama Twitter account, they seem a lot more personable and less "contrived".  There is the "I'm doing this" but it's also including things like "why don't you come and see me" or "take a look for yourself" parts of a conversation that engage the audience and ask them to do something.  Compared to the Clinton Twitter account its refreshing to see this account seeming to interact with its followers rather than bragging about doing this or doing that.

Barack Obama's Twitter Feed Barack Obama's campaign team has also really promoted and used twitter, not just to say "I'm at this debate" or "I'm at this place speaking", they use it to say "hey come take a look at our video" and use it to promote different things with the campaign.  It must be working, because they have over 7 times the followers that Hillary Clinton does.  I think this also goes to show how Barack Obama is Rocking the Youth Vote, where Hillary Clinton does not.  All of this really makes me wonder, if they (Barack's campaign) took it to the next level and said "Hey voters in PA, tell us what you think about XYZ", how this might engage more supporters and voters?

A search on Twitter for "Barack Obama" shows 17 different accounts on Twitter, and the official Barack Obama account is right at the top.  It's also a little easier to see that if you just typed in "Obama" into Twitter, of those 90+ results - the majority of those are Barack Obama supporters.  Its easy to see this because his name is pretty unique, unlike typing in "Hillary" or "Clinton" where it is a lot more murky as those names are more common as people's first names or last.

So what's the conclusion in all of this, does it translate over votes?  Well a lot would point to Ron Paul and how he grew on the internet as a force to be reckoned with, but yet that didn't translate into votes that it probably doesn't. 

I think Barack Obama's campaign is fairing a lot better, thanks in part, not just to Twitter but to them recognizing how to use social media on a whole to communicate (yes two way conversations) with the younger set of voters in this country.  Look at the exit polling numbers, look at the data of the record number of youth votes in this primary - and then look at who they voted for.  I'd say social media definitely has some kind of influence there, don't you?

March 04, 2008

Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton, If Search Defined Things, Who'd Win?

By Li Evans

The political pundits are deeming today as the 2nd "Super Tuesday".  Others are calling today "Hillary's Firewall".  It is definitely interesting times we are finding ourselves in, as well as exciting.  There's a lot of "what ifs" and "can you imagines" going on with the campaign on the Democratic side of the ticket, so I started wondering about how each candidate is doing "trend" wise in search and the blogosphere.  What I found was pretty amazing.

So what if the pundits looked at search trends or blogging trends?  What would that tells us that those political polls don't?  Well lets take a look.

I decided to start with Google Trends.  I put in the terms "Barack Obama", "Hillary Clinton" to get an overall picture of how each were.  Pretty interesting stuff over the past year.  What's not surprising is that Clinton leads "trend wise" over Obama in New York.  What is interesting is the sizable gap between these two when it comes to search.

Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton in Google Trends

So now lets look at two of today's states that are in play - Texas and Ohio.  How did they fair?

Continue reading "Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton, If Search Defined Things, Who'd Win?" »

February 13, 2008

Democrat Hillary Clinton: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Hillary_clinton_official No other candidate in this political season enjoys name recognition like Hillary Clinton does.  Unless you've lived in a cave, in the desert with no access to newspapers, electricity or radios, you would have been hard pressed not to know about Hillary Clinton throughout the 1990's.  Hillary even commands just the term "Hillary" if you do a search across the search engines - that is how much of common name she is.  Unlike her husband, typing in "Bill" won't garner you 80% of the listings being about Bill Clinton.

With that said, the Hillary Clinton campaign can get away with a lot more optimization wise than the other candidates when it comes to the candidate's name.  However, this campaign's online strategy still has some short comings throughout it just like the rest of the candidates that we've reviewed so far. 

So lets take a closer look into the online marketing strategies of Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign, as she's the last candidate we have left to review in this series.

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Hillary Clinton for President - Main Page As I stated above, Hillary Clinton's campaign has a luxury that all of the other candidates are missing - name recognition.  It's why her site can get away with only calling her "Hillary" every where.  Anyone who says "Hillary" knows you are talking about Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate.  However, that said - if she weren't such a household name, she'd have issues ranking for even "Hillary Clinton" because that phrase barely appears on her site at all in regular text.

Thankfully, this campaign doesn't use one of those annoying splash pages, but the main page, definitely has a different feel than the other pages.  It is image heavy, but, there is enough text on the page to let the search engines find something.  They lack appropriate alt text for the images with alt text like "photo" and "button" it really shows there was not SEO planning going into the site.

The title tags like all the other candidates remain the same in the beginning and change out on the tail end depending on the page.  Meta descriptions are all the same across the pages and the meta keyword tag isn't even set up right, but it remains the same throughout the site too.  The use of hierarchal heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) is used, but it's obvious they aren't using these features to optimize their pages.

Live/MSN Search for 'Hillary Clinton'The campaign leaves behind some opportunities to capitalize on terms like "Democrat for President" or "Presidential Candidate", just like all the other candidates.   Some surprising things though is that her campaign website doesn't rank #1 for "Hillary Clinton" in Ask or MSN/Live, it's her senate page that out ranks her.  That likely has to do with that whole "Hillary Clinton" phrase not really being on her site, but that's how people link to her.
SEO Strategies Grade: C

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Hillary Clinton for President - Social Media PromotionWhen it comes Social Media, the Clinton campaign seems to be a lot like the Romney campaign was.  Basically they have social media because their competitors do, not because they realize that it's a viable way to reach younger voters, or energize people.

Clinton has the major social media sites Flickr, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.  The campaign also has a profile on Eons as well, which is a community that focuses on the over 55 generation that is actively online and participating in social media.

When it comes to how they are using the social media sites, it's like they just don't "get it".  Take for example in Flickr, they name the picture "Hilary Clinton in San Francisco 1", "Hilary Clinton in San Francisco 2", etc., instead of actually naming the people in the pictures.  The tag the pictures with Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright, when neither of those women are in the pictures.  How difficult is it to get the names of the people and title it with them use their names as tags as well?  They are apparently clueless about how that could turn into something to talk about, be passed around, and maybe even turn viral?

Looking to YouTube, it's like Clinton's team has found a "free" place to dump her commercials.  Here she doesn't have to pay to have them aired, she uses her YouTube channel and calls it "Hillary TV".  It's so controlled and so almost "fake" and I say that because if you look at all the other candidates, their teams are out there with video cameras of their own, just taking videos of crowds and posting them to their accounts.  There is a sharp contrast between how Clinton uses Social Media and how the other candidates have.
Social Media Strategies Grade: B-

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Hillary's team has pulled together a basic PPC Campaign that runs on her name or versions of her name.  Looking at "Hillary", "Hillary Clinton" or "Hillary Rodham Clinton" shows that her campaign is buying these terms on Google and Yahoo.  They show up on Ask because of the Google connection, however there is nothing on Live/MSN.

The campaign isn't purchasing any other terms that are related to Hillary or the current presidential run.  One might think if people were looking for information on "Bill Clinton" it could be a great opportunity to turn them onto reading about Hillary.  What about other terms like "democrat front runner", "democratic presidential candidate"?  Nope, nothing here either.

What I did find quite surprising was that prior to my reviews of the democratic front runners, none of them were taking PPC campaigns further than their names or opponents names.  Tonight, it looks like I can report that Barack Obama's campaign seems to be stepping things up - they are buying "democrat for president" on Yahoo.  But the Clinton campaign is sorrily missing out here.
PPC Strategies Grade: B

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

So that now leads us into Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign's blog.  The blog is run by her campaign staff.  They post "letters" or "messages" from Clinton - they even have an image of her signature on her messages - to try and give the feel that Hillary is participating, but I don't know - it just comes off so, "fake".

Hillary Clinton for President - BlogAfter reading so many other campaign blogs, and seeing so many different styles, this blog just really feels very "uptight", almost way to controlled and forced.  You look at what Fred Thompson did, what both Huckabee and Obama are doing - there is a striking difference.  Of the 4 candidates left - McCain, Huckabee, Obama and Clinton, Clinton's blog just doesn't come off as "natural" or "real".  It's all about the spin.  The videos they integrate are either commercials or clips of her speeches from the new stations.  There's nothing really "real".  No photos, just lots and lots of text.

That said, they are doing some things right.  They are active, at least one post a day.  They allow people to comment, and they have social media promotion of the blog posts with Delicious, Digg and Tecnorati (why Technorati, I don't know).  They also allow you to easily subscribe to the blog, when other candidates made it hard to find or figure out. However, there's no "SEO" going on with the blog.  Each blog post has HillaryClinton.com - View Post as its title, with the same description and keywords (which is set up wrong) tags that are on the rest of the site.
Blogging Strategies Grade: B-

Overall, there's just this real feeling of "control" on the Hillary Clinton site that screams at you.  I don't know why, but I could not shake that feeling of nothing being "natural".  I reviewed a lot of sites in the last 2 months, and most of the sites, there was a feeling of "natural" or maybe more "real", that they were trying to get real information out there, not give a presentation.

However, that controlled feeling, is allowing the campaign to miss a lot of key opportunities.  It's almost as if they would loosen their death grip on their need for control, and interact a bit with people it could do them a world of good.  After all isn't that what the internet is all about these days?  Conversation means a lot, voters (and website visitors) just don't want to be talked "at" anymore.
Overall Grade: B-

Interested in seeing the other reviews done by Search Marketing Gurus?  Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republicans John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy GiulianiMike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

We've also done reviews on both the Democrat's online strategies for their debate in Nevada and the Republican's debate in South Carolina.

 

February 05, 2008

Republican Mitt Romney: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

It's "Super Tuesday", if you didn't know.  Most of the polls are now starting to close and count their votes, so I thought I'd get a review out for this evening, since I've only got two left to do.  I had been alternating parties with each review, but I really wanted to highlight Mitt Romney tonight since it's been quite a tight race between him and John McCain so far.

Mitt Romney's put millions of his own money into his campaign. Independently wealthy and a rather successful business man, it befuddles me why this candidate really hasn't invested in an online marketing strategy.  If he has, it just really doesn't create that "pow" hitting on all cylinders or even near all cylinders like Barack Obama's and former candidate John Edwards' website do.

Mitt Romney's site is an odd mix of happenstance really.  There's social media, but yet not a lot.  There's a blog and it's got posts and comments.  Mitt Romney's presidential campaign site actually ranks for "Republican for President", but yet there's no pay per click advertising.  It's just probably the oddest mix I've seen yet (next to Kucinich).  So let us now take a deeper look at Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's online marketing strategies.

Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Mitt Romney for President - Mitt Romney If one were to look at just the main page of the Mitt Romney for President website, you might get the inkling that these folks understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Sadly, the optimization just doesn't follow through, throughout the remainder of the site.  The main page uses the alt attribute on images, they use h1, h2 and h3 tags with great keywords.  There's actually a decent amount of text on here and they use Mitt & Romney together, along with "Republican" and "Governor".  The use of "Republican" with in the content whenever you come to this page, is a big reason why he ranks for "Republican for President", none of the other candidates are using that word on the main page of their website.

Unfortunately that's where the "good" stuff ends.  They change title tags, but the tags "All the News", "Photo Album", "Global Economic Condition" and so on, really do not tell a whole lot about how these pages relate to Mitt Romney and is candidacy for president.  There's also no real meta description (just the title tag repeated) and no keywords tag being utilized.  The use of optimized header tags disappears after the first page, too.

Mitt Romney for President - Splash PageIf you happened to catch NPR last week, you'll know that I've got a pet peeve with the candidates' and their websites, it's Splash Pages. Now I get why they think they need them, and I'm actually quite happy if once I go there and click into the site, I never see the Splash page again (since they control this with a cookie), however this isn't the case with the Romney website.  Every single time, I get this annoying splash page. 

While the pages are filled with a lot of content, it's actually disappointing to know that none of it is really optimized to bring in more searches to the pages so chalk full of information about this candidate.  If there's a positive thing, his site isn't over run totally with flash and images.
SEO Grade: C-

Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Mitt Romney - Social Media Connections The social media strategies that are being promoted by this campaign's presidential website are limited to 4.  Flickr, YouTube, MySpace & Facebook are all the icons that Mitt Romney's site is promoting to connect with this candidate.  However, unlike most of the other candidates, Romney's only got profiles there and isn't really integrating these sites into his.

Romney's got a pretty active Flickr account, but he doesn't integrate it into his site.  The same with his YouTube channel - he's got over 700 videos out there, but instead of using the YouTube as part of his MittTV, he uses PermissionTV.  They do integrate the YouTube videos into Facebook, and videos they have on YouTube are also in MySpace.  So they are using it, but it just seems like they don't know how to "really" use social media.
Social Media Grade:  B-

Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

The PPC Strategies for this site are non-existent. There's no PPC campaigns for his name, "Mitt Romney". There are two campaign that is taking advantage of this, John McCain's and Mike Huckabee's.  I found both campaigns are purchasing "Mitt Romney".  Like John Edwards though John McCain's campaign buys on Ask (which I'm taking as they are buying on Google, but, again like Edwards, it didn't come up when I searched on Google). Romney's campaign is also doing nothing PPC-wise on Yahoo or Live either.
PPC Grade: F

Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Mitt Romney For President - BlogMitt's campaign has an interesting blog, not only does he blog, but his wife does and his 5 sons do as well, thus the name "5 Brothers Blog".  You can subscribe to each of these author's writings, and you can comment on the blog.  Like most of the other blogs out there for the candidates, it's pretty active.

They do integrate YouTube videos and pictures into blog posts, but that's the limit of the social media integration into the blog.  Again, I think that points back to not really understanding how to use social media, it's more like the "I'm suppose to have it" syndrome.

The last thing I'd like to point out is how Romney highlights some of his supporters.  Like Mike Huckabee, Romney has a blog roll that highlights his supporters.  This is a really nice thing to do, highlighting other bloggers that write about you on your national site. What great way to empower your supporters.
Blogging Strategies:  B

Overall it's a lot of "happenstance" when it comes to the Mitt Romney Presidential campaign site's online marketing strategies.  It doesn't look like a lot of strategy really went into what they are doing online, beyond some thought into their blog.  Unlike the other front runners I've reviewed, this campaign needs a lot more help than just a few tweaks.
Overall Grade: C

Interested in seeing the other reviews done by Search Marketing Gurus?  Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republicans John McCain, Rudy GiulianiMike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

We've also done reviews on both the Democrat's online strategies for their debate in Nevada and the Republican's debate in South Carolina.

January 29, 2008

Republican Rudy Giuliani: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Rudy_giuliani_official If you've been paying attention to the presidential race on the Republican side, you probably know that Rudy Giuliani is banking a lot on "Super Tuesday".  That hasn't stopped the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign site though, it's been operating since last year.  They have a site that updates its headlines frequently, blogs often and participates in both PPC and Social Media. 

So how does Rudy's campaign stack up against the presidential contenders that we've reviewed in the past few weeks?  Surprisingly, not bad at all.  There can be tweaks here and there, but in general the online strategies that the Giuliani Republican Presidential campaign has put together isn't bad at all.  So lets take a closer look.

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Rudy Giuliani for President website - main pageLooking at Rudy Giuliani's site, the SEO is probably the weakest "link" in the campaigns entire online strategy.  There's some SEO, but it's more by happenstance than by actual planned strategy.  Like almost every other candidate that SearchMarketingGurus.com has reviewed, they have title tags, but, the ending of the title tag just changes to what the title of the page is.  There's nothing remotely optimized with the title tags of the pages of the Rudy Giuliani for President websites, but at least they have them and at least they are not the exact same thing from page to page.

Moving onto the meta description and keywords, unfortunately these are the same throughout all the pages of the website.  Like all the other candidates, it really seems like their presidential campaign teams all went to web designers but never bothered to consult a true search marketing expert to help them capitalize upon those areas that might be able to reach out and get their message to other people - who aren't searching on their name.  Like I said, the SEO is happenstance here - some use of alt text for images (but not optimized), some use of header tags (but not optimized), no meta descriptions so the search engines decide what the snippet is to display in the search results.

Content is hit and miss on some of the pages for the JoinRudy2008.com site.  There's some pages which are content rich, for example the About Rudy page.  Thankfully there's no splash page here.  However, their main page is flash and image heavy with hardly any real content for the search engines to grab onto and decide "Hey this guy's a REPUBLICAN presidential candidate".
SEO Grade: C+

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Rudy Giuliani for President - Flickr Page The Rudy Giuliani campaign team is making a real effort in this area.  In particularly in Flickr, YouTube, BlipTv and believe it or not iTunes.  They also have Facebook and MySpace pages, but the real effort and action seems to be in the other "sharing" social media sites.  They also have a Digg profile, but I wonder about "why" they are promoting it, especially when there's not much activity on it at all

They are really working with Flickr.  Of all the past reviewed candidates, there hasn't been a real effort to use Flickr to the extent that Rudy's campaign has.  They have great photo titles and actually have great descriptions about each photo that is put into their account.  They also use Flickr to produce the photo stream of pictures that is on the campaign's photo page on the official Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign website.  The campaign is actually tagging the photos, too, and using relevant and meaningful tags.  The only thing they are lacking on the Flickr account - links back to Rudy's presidential campaign site, and I bet that's more because they don't realize they can do it, rather than them not implementing that piece.

They are really active with the videos too, utilizing both YouTube and BlipTv.  Unlike the other candidates however, they really use BlipTV to promote the videos when you are on the campaign site.  It's probably because the interface is a lot nicer and it doesn't show the videos all blurred or just as a black box before the user hits the play button.  BlipTv also gives the user a bit more control over which videos can be displayed with a more configurable player that can be embedded in the website.  That doesn't mean though the campaign doesn't utilize the YouTube player - I've seen that utilized in their blog mostly and the account has well over 500 videos in it - only Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have more.

Rudy Giuliania for President - iTune PageAlthough I don't know that iTunes is really "social media", it's interesting to point it out, because no other candidate is really promoting it.  Other candidates have podcasts, but they aren't promoting it the way that Giuliani is, as part of his social networking mix.  Clicking the iTunes icon on the site, brings up iTunes if you have it installed and takes you directly into Rudy Giuliani's "store".  It's recent and has all the latest podcasts, commercials and information the campaign releases.
Social Media Grade: A+

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Yeah! Another candidate who understands that they should have a Pay Per Click campaign.  Rudy's campaign team is active on Google (Ask by Google PPC default) and Yahoo!.  I couldn't find ads on MSN/Live for Rudy's campaign site.  I found he wasn't buying "Republican Candidate" or words like that.  He also does not purchase his competitors names, like McCain and Huckabee are currently doing.

What Rudy's campaign does do, which is very smart, is buy the misspelling of his name.  Trust me, I had trouble spelling his last name right up until about 2 months ago.  How many "i"'s would I miss when I first started, would be my daily game! He's got a tough last name to spell and if it's not right in front of you, you'll likely spell it wrong the first couple of times out of the gate.
PPC Grade: A-

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Rudy Giuliani for President - BlogRudy's site had a blog, and they really use it to communicate what's going on in the campaign.  They integrate videos into blog posts from YouTube, they talk about upcoming events (right now mostly in Flroida), they tag their entries with relevant keywords and they display how many times a blog post has been viewed.  They also allow you to subscribe to the feed through RSS, but as a person who reads blogs (this is more a usability issue), the RSS button is not readily visible at first, it's all the way down at the bottom of the navigation of the page.

Unfortunately that's where the "pluses" stop with the blog.  There's no interaction with the audience beyond knowing how many people viewed the blog post.  There's no comments allowed, you can't email the post to a friend and there's no social media promotion.  Even though Rudy's got a Digg account and promotes that in his social networking area - there's no Digg buttons (I'd argue though about Digg - Diggrz seem to hate Rudy as much as Bush).

It's like the blog is just a megaphone, or a better way to get what they don't have on the main page, out to the masses.  While that's not a bad thing, it really doesn't give users a reason to come back and participate - adding comments would.  If you look at the other candidates' blogs, you can see what I mean, Barack Obama's, John Edwards' and Fred Thompson's (even though he's dropped out) all have comments and all are very active.
Blogging Grade: B+

Overall, if the Giuliani presidential campaign team could tweak a few things, they'd have one heck of an online marketing strategy.  They could really, seriously outshine the rest of the candidates and possibly get their message out even better and farther than they are right now.  Would that translate into votes?  It might, I think Barack Obama's efforts online show it does (how he reaches the younger crowd and energizes them), however Ron Paul's efforts almost shows the opposite.  It's more about knowing which audiences to reach that will actually vote and knowing which online strategies will reach them effectively, if Rudy's team could do that, it definitely wouldn't hurt their campaign!
Overall Grade: B+

Interested in seeing the other reviews done by Search Marketing Gurus?  Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republicans John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

We've also done reviews on both the Democrat's online strategies for their debate in Nevada and the Republican's debate in South Carolina.

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