In Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope Michael Silberman describes Howard Dean’s effective use of Meetup.com. The Dean campaign, in essence, let the people speak while the campaign listened. The wisdom of the crowds was put into play. Even though the campaign staff included many knowledgeable staff members, fresh ideas were also welcome. Brainstorming between group members was encouraged to figure out new ways to get the message out. In this way volunteers, who didn’t have any preconceived notions about how it has always been done, could figure other ways to get it done.

 

Of course, some guidance was welcome. Group leaders were given sample agendas so that they could have a jumping off point for their meetings. The Meetups were also given supplies by the Dean office so that they could help in ongoing letter writing campaigns. Everything was provided to willing hands. The members only needed to know how they could be most helpful and they proceeded to dig in.

 

 

With more people involved in the campaign the potential was there to exponentially grow support for Dean. If each member could bring in a few new members and then each of them brought in a few more, well, you can see where this is going. It could spread like a chain letter, with the volunteers going to your candidate. This is all well and good but the larger question is how to keep this group of free laborers content?

 

This is where the true genius of the campaign is brought in. The group leaders were given a personal touch. They spoke with real people on the phone and were able to ask questions. They were treated with dignity and responded by being an integral part of the Dean campaign. They became such an important part of the campaign because they were treated as such. When you have people, essentially working for free, you’d better give them some support. It’s amazing how far a pat on the back can go. These grassroots organizers were encouraged and welcomed with open arms and their numbers grew to more than 600,000. Now that’s a lot of arms.

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As I was reading the articles on the Howard Dean campaign it struck me that all of them had one thing in common. Basically, they were saying that politics, like markets should be conversations. I felt like a genius until I got to the last article that I read The Marketing of a President. It said just that so I didn’t feel as superior anymore. It makes plenty of sense though. For years in politics, just as in marketing, we’ve been told what we want instead of asked. We don’t need to buy (vote) for any particular candidate. In fact there are lots to choose from so if we don’t feel like a candidate is interested in us why should we side with them? Just as in marketing a little goes a long way. If a politician can really show potential voters that he or she is listening and reacting to what is being discussed they have a much better chance of being elected. When the poorest candidate has millions of dollars in the bank it’s hard to relate to them. There is already a built in divide. When they ask advice of constituents it makes them, the constituents, feel more powerful.

 

Since we have more people getting involved in the campaign more insights can be made. As also mentioned in the article, our crowd is very wise. Each individual person may have a great idea but the trends that develop will really let a campaign know which way to go. By using collaboration this wisdom becomes a free asset for campaigns. People are motivated to get involved with a campaign that cherishes their ideas and institutes them. It is what web 2.0 is all about. People donate ideas and time based not on monetary rewards but instead recognition.

 

Now candidates are also capitalizing through the gained capital that an internet presence brings in but money from individuals only goes so far. It seems that in order to run a campaign a huge amount of money is needed. If volunteers are born of this open internet forum they each can pull in 2 more people or 6 and then the donations will really begin to roll. If potential voters believe in you and feel that your message is directed towards them and obtainable the possibilities are endless.