Earlier this month, volunteers for Republican\n presidential candidate Ron Paul, aided by an extraordinary\n outpouring of grassroots Internet support, made U.S.\n electoral history by raising more than $4.2 million in one\n 24-hour period. \u201cThe Web Takes Ron Paul for a\n Ride,\u201d noted The New York Times.\n MORE ON CIO.com\n \n Election 2008: Technology Issues Will Play a Key Role\n \n Campaign Finance Database Goes Through Major Revamp\n Four years ago, the likes of Howard Dean and John Kerry\n looked for a lift online from website donors, e-mail updates,\n high-profile blogs and political gatherings via Meetup.com.\n We\u2019re now watching campaign 2.0, where 20-plus presidential candidates may\n disagree on Iraq, health care and taxes, but their actions\n speak as one about the need to add Web 2.0 tools to their\n communications, fund-raising and outreach strategies.With less than two months to go before the primary season\n begins with the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, candidates are sprinting for donor\n dollars, media coverage and votes. And they are targeting\n online communities, social networking sites, YouTube channels,\n audio clips, Flickr photo feeds, sponsored blogs,\n self-contained content widgets for supporters\u2019\n websites and more to connect with all of those\n constituencies. Democrats John Edwards and Hillary Clinton used website videos to\n announced their candidacies.Businesses can take a page from the candidates\u2019 social\n networking frenzy. Web 2.0 applications make it possible to\n promote a corporate image while creating an opportunity to\n become more accessible and responsive to customers through new\n communications channels. But beware: There\u2019s an\n authenticity trap here. Experts say it\u2019s difficult to\n pursue so many new channels without diluting your message,\n without seeming as if you\u2019re trying to be everything to\n everybody.The Ubiquitous Campaign 2.0The candidates are everywhere you look if you spend time\n online. Some examples:On the hustings in online communities. On\n eons.com, an online community for\n retiring baby boomers, Hillary Clinton has been given\n blogger and storyteller badges for posting frequently and\n sharing her life story. On Democrat Barack Obama\u2019s personal homepage\n on BlackPlanet.com you can watch his recent\n talk show appearances on the Tavis Smiley Show and\n The Tonight Show to your heart\u2019s content. His\n page on the Latino community MiGente has a link to Obama TV en\n espagnol.Full YouTube ahead. All the major\n candidates have their own YouTube channel (and MySpace and Facebook pages). In addition, a video\n project called 10Questions presents voter questions to\n the candidates, who then post their video answers. As of\n Nov. 21, Republican Mike Huckabee had uploaded nine\n responses addressing Internet neutrality, whether the United\n States is a theocracy and whether marijuana should be legal.\n (Obama was the only other candidate to post any\n responses.)\n\t \tA Candidate Engages Voters\n\t\n\t\tRepublican Mike Huckabee Explains His Views On Net Neutrality. \n\t\n\t\t \n\t\n\t\tSource: 10Questions.\n Business card sharing. Republican Rudy\n Giuliani has 247 connections on social networking site\n LinkedIn. It\u2019s not difficult to\n conjure a game of \u201cSix Degrees of Rudy\u201d to see\n if the former New York mayor just might be connected to\n someone you know.Second Life. Edwards has built a\n \u201ccampaign central\u201d on Second Life, the 3-D virtual world and\n even received some virtual news coverage about its opening\n on the Second Life News Network.John Edwards' Second Life campaign office.Video mash-ups. Taking a page from Madison\n Avenue campaigns for candy bars and fast-food restaurants,\n Republican Mitt Romney is holding a contest for supporters to create video\n ads using images provided by the campaign site and to select\n the best. (Such an event shows both upsides and risks;\n SlateV, the video service of Slate Magazine, produced a\n short parody of the project.)Games. And on Republican John McCain\u2019s website, you can\n play the animated \u201cJohn & Hillary Game,\u201d\n and try and match questions with the correct candidates.\n (The game creators made the answers difficult to get\n wrong.)Still Waiting for Campaign Killer AppBut while Web 2.0 tools open up more channels to engage\n voters \u2013 including channels supporters open up themselves\n \u2013 the new applications also emphasize reaching the\n smaller markets, rather than the mass. \u201cPolitics today\n has become about [getting] hundreds of small hits rather than\n one big hit," observes Paul Gillin, a social media consultant\n and author of The New Influencers.\u201cWhatever they can do in the world to get that edge,\n they\u2019ll do,\u2019\u2019 says Alan Webber, a customer\n experience analyst at Forrester Research, in Washington, D.C.\n Edwards, for example, "has the longest list of social\n networking sites I\u2019ve ever seen,\u201d 23 at last count,\n Webber adds.Therein lies a potential quagmire. Although Web 2.0\n applications offer the ability to go after a targeted\n audience\u2014especially those age 30 and younger\u2014and\n reach them in a fast, efficient, easy and less expensive way,\n Webber believes the message itself is getting diluted.\n That\u2019s true in Edwards\u2019s case, Webber says,\n claiming that his presence on a vast number of social\n networking sites shows he is \u201ctrying to be everything to\n everybody.\u201dGillin adds that the Edwards\u2019s campaign is using Twitter, a mobile blog that lets\n users send group IMs to people who subscribe to this\n service. (The campaign's entries are sporadic compared to\n say, a teenager posting "tweets" on a MySpace page.)But Edwards is not the only one who is spreading himself all\n over the Web. Webber believes most of the candidates are guilty\n of not addressing the issues people care about in a substantive\n way online. \u201cEverybody in politics is so worried about\n that last vote that....we lose a lot of the coherence and\n understanding of who the candidate is, what they actually stand\n for and what their actual message is because they go across so\n many different mediums and channels.\u201dCandidates' Market Share on the\n WebThe following Hitwise.com data ranks\n U.S. market share of website visitors for major\n presidential candidates from a sample of 10 million U.S.\n Internet users. The data is for the week ending Nov. 17,\n 2007.\n \n Democrats\n\n \n\n \n \n\n \n Candidate\n\n \n\n Market Share\n \n\n \n Barak Obama\n\n \n\n 28.47%\n \n\n \n Hillary Clinton\n\n \n\n 25.72%\n \n\n \n John Edwards\n\n \n\n 18.31%\n \n\n \n Dennis Kucinich\n\n \n\n 9.36%\n \n\n \n Bill Richardson\n\n \n\n 6.36%\n \n\n \n Joe Biden\n\n \n\n 6.24%\n \n\n \n Chris Dodd\n\n \n\n 3.14%\n \n\n \n Mike Gravel\n\n \n\n 2.41%\n \n \n \n Republicans\n\n \n\n \n \n\n \n Candidate\n\n \n\n Market Share\n \n\n \n Ron Paul\n\n \n\n 42.85%\n \n\n \n Mike Huckabee\n\n \n\n 25.91%\n \n\n \n Fred Thompson\n\n \n\n 6.89%\n \n\n \n Mitt Romney\n\n \n\n 6.82%\n \n\n \n Rudy Giuliani\n\n \n\n 5.61%\n \n\n \n John McCain\n\n \n\n 5.44%\n \n\n \n Tom Tancredo\n\n \n\n 3.91%\n \n\n \n Duncan Hunter\n\n \n\n 2.57%\n \n User Generated EnthusiasmWhen you consider Ron Paul\u2019s haul of donor dollars,\n there\u2019s no denying Web 2.0 offers new and addictive ways\n for political junkies to get information about the candidates\n they might not otherwise hear on the nightly news anywhere,\n anytime and in so many places. So many blogs. So many YouTube\n videos. So many social networking links. Meetup.com still offers notices on\n gatherings for the like-minded, and Eventful.com seeks to generate demand\n online for candidates to show up in locations around the\n country.Gillin says Web 2.0 applications are making it easy for the\n candidates to spread their message virally because\n \u201cyou\u2019re leveraging your enthusiasts to do your\n campaigning for you.\u201d\n MORE ON CIO.com\n \n Election IT on the 2004 Campaign Trail\n \n Howard Dean Profits from 2004 Web Campaign\n \n Election '04: The Next President's IT Agenda\n Flash back to 2004, when the Web was merely a tool for\n communication between the campaigns and their supporters\n \u201cand the only feedback mechanism was to [respond to]\n small contributors who could give money and\n ideas,\u2019\u2019 says Robert Shrum, a retired political\n consultant who advised several Democratic presidential\n nominees, including John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000.\n Shrum, who is now a senior fellow at New York University, says\n the current group of candidates is building on what happened\n four years ago.In 2004, Democrat Howard Dean and other presidential\n hopefuls launched fund-raisers online, and Meetup.com provided\n a bulletin board for like-minded citizens to gather and discuss\n their favorite candidates.This year\u2019s tools represent \u201cphase two of that\n work\u2014you make it far more possible for them to\n communicate with each other and the rest of universe,\u201d\n Shrum says.Shrum believes one of the most effective uses of Web 2.0\n applications is the ability to create an online ad campaign and\n not have to spend millions of dollars running television spots.\n He notes that Hillary Clinton, for example, posted a spot on\n the Web the day after a televised presidential debate, showing\n her and former President Bill Clinton in a diner, \u00e0 la\n the final episode of The Sopranos, which Shrum says\n was well-produced and got her a lot of attention.Webber questions the authenticity of these campaign-produced\n pieces, calling them a series of self-serving messages.\n \u201cI think voters have looked and seen what\u2019s out\n there and they realize it\u2019s just another bullhorn for\n [the candidates] to tout their less-than-coherent and\n less-than-completely truthful message.\u201dWebber argues that before social networking became a trend,\n political bloggers were \u201cdigging the dirt to get the\n honest truth out there and what they saw with these\n candidates.\u201d With the advent of social networking sites,\n the candidates are able to create pages that often are nothing\n more than \u201cideological mouthpieces and masks,\u201d he\n says.Shrum says he expects the Web medium to be a self-correcting\n force, with people creating websites to counter positions (and\n candidates) they don\u2019t like. \u201cThe Web has a way of\n being self-correcting,\u2019\u2019 he says, and the next\n development will be \u201csites that critique the\n sites.\u201dIn a \u201cwhat-if\u201d scenario, Web 2.0 would have been\n particularly effective in an election as close as the\n Kerry-Bush battle in 2004, Shrum maintains. \u201cEverything\n would have made a difference\u2014[the ability to] create a\n virtual community in Ohio, for example,\u2019\u2019 where a\n small margin carried the swing state for Bush. Shrum predicts\n that as advances are made in voice recognition technology, in\n coming elections voters will see more effective real-time blogs\n and more real-time conversations.Candidates Knocking on Every Digital Door They CanBut in the here and now, the candidates are racing to reach\n out and connect with people wherever they can find them online.\n Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has posted more than\n 400 videos on YouTube since January that have received 2.5\n million page views, according to Stephen Smith, director of\n Online Communications for the Romney campaign, in Boston.The Romney campaign has built its own social network so when\n someone signs up on the site, he gets a username and password\n and can create events, invite friends, solicit small donations\n among his friends, family and coworkers and customize his own\n profile, Smith says. The campaign has also built \u201cMitt\n TV,\u201d with 10 different channels, each programmed with\n content such as video essays on immigration, lowering taxes,\n his opposition to same-sex marriage, and health care, as well\n as ads.But Smith acknowledges that his organization doesn't always\n know how effective the various online methods are.\n \u201cSometimes it\u2019s difficult to gauge whether\n they\u2019re working,\u2019\u2019 he says, although he is\n encouraged by the number of responses people post.So businesses, beware. Web 2.0 applications can be very\n effective marketing tools, \u201cbut you have to balance the\n marketing aspect with the creation and development and\n nurturing of the relationship,\u201d Webber says.\u201cWe want to read [the message] and listen to it for a\n while, but we want to engage with someone in a conversation\n about what our problems are and how we can solve them,\u201d\n Webber says. Social networking technologies may offer the\n ability for dialogue, but whether both sides are willing to\n engage in that conversation is a question for analysis later in\n the 2008 race.