Political news site The Politico just published a study it completed with Compete.com which looked at web surfing behaviors of people who visited the current crop of Presidential contenders' websites. While some of you readers might be saying to yourself, oh great another political marketing post that I'll just ignore, I think you should spend a little more time studying the article and the results. If a political marketers has challenges with social networking, then perhaps maybe you should rethink your strategy too. The article called Campaign seek measure of internet success has some great quotes in it and a link to a table to run some of your own comparisons. Here are some highlights from the article...
- Some of the more newsworthy efforts have focused on campaign-created MySpace, Facebook, Meetup and YouTube pages — and so far, the payoff has been difficult to measure.
- But the results reveal interesting online habits among the politically attuned. A significant number get their news from mainstream media versus political blogs. YouTube, meanwhile, is one of the most reliable ways for candidates to communicate directly to voters. But the candidates’ official Meetup, Facebook and MySpace pages appear less effective at that.
- Half of those tracked by Compete visited MySpace in September, and 54 percent visited YouTube. Nearly two-thirds went to Wikipedia, a quarter logged on to Facebook and 7 percent visited Meetup.
- Meetup, the darling of the 2004 election cycle, barely registers with any candidate other than Internet phenom Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
- Two percent checked out the candidates’ MySpace pages, and 1 percent hit his or her Facebook page.
- YouTube is in a different league, with 16 percent of its readers visiting candidate-specific pages
- The political readers captured by Compete were much more likely to get their news from a mainstream source than from political blogs. Forty-eight percent went to CNN, followed by Yahoo News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, USA Today and, to a lesser extent, Politico.
So are these social networks all hype? Well for politics I think they are over hyped, but they do serve useful purposes in connecting people. While for advertisers, they provide a cheap and often free way of advertising. Plus, the word of mouth potential of course is always there.
However (and that's a big however), as an acquisition vehicle I don't think the majority of advertisers have quite figured out how to use them. Sure for every Ron Paul advertiser there are thousands of other advertisers that don't have the right message or product to move the social networking needle.
This study clearly shows for the majority of political advertisers that they should put the spending back towards more traditional internet mediums. Besides that I think advertisers should really think of social networks as a CRM vehicle (yes I wrote that). That's really where your strategy should be moving towards and less of an acquisition vehicle.