Saturday, August 2, 2008

My ooVoo Day With... Political Edition: The Bivings Report

I spent an hour on Thursday talking with Todd Zeigler and JW Crump of The Bivings Group, a Washington, DC-based Internet communications firm, along with three others (Steve Peterson, Alex Clover and BestSellingShow) who joined an ooVoo video conversation as part of My ooVoo Day With: Political Edition. Todd Zeigler, Senior Vice President of Client Services for The Bivings Group, led the videoconference which focused on a new report they just published on their blog, The Use of the Internet by 2008 Senate Campaigns. We didn't really talk political issues but discussed the key findings of their report on how politicians use the internet in their senatorial campaigns.

This is an excerpt from the introduction of the report:
"As the Internet changes and grows, so should the efforts of Senatorial candidates to use this technology to strengthen their campaigns. It is an excellent medium to reinforce their platforms, find new voters, and reach as many people as possible. In addition, new Web 2.0 technologies give candidates the ability to interact fully with their constituents."
They looked at 68 candidates "26 Senate incumbents and 41 Senate challengers, including 36 Democrats and 31 Republicans" and shared these "intriguing findings" from the report:
  • Incumbents are using the web more aggressively than they have in past cycles.
  • There is no real difference in the way Republicans and Democrats are using their campaign websites
  • Many of the features being used to great effect by Presidential campaigns are not being used by Senate candidates
  • Many candidates are advertising their presences on third-party social networks on their campaign websites.
  • The number of campaign websites with blogs has increased greatly, from 23 percent of campaigns in 2006 to 40 percent in 2008.
  • Candidates this election cycle are utilizing multimedia (audio and video files) more than in previous years.
  • Some basic features were present on virtually every campaign website
    (more detail on their blog...)
This graph shows the percentage of candidates using each of the web site features they looked at:

As part of our ooVoo video conversation, we discussed the use of blogs and how influential bloggers had become in the 2006 elections with the example of Joe Leiberman's defeat in the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. The Washington Post noted that "Lamont built his campaign initially with the enthusiastic support of the "Net roots" -- bloggers and other Internet-based activists -- and then expanded with a grass-roots campaign that attracted rank-and-file Democrats who opposed the war and who complained that Lieberman had neglected the interests of his home state."

The Bivings Report didn't identify any similar grass-roots campaigns in 2008 but did notice a difference between Republican and Democratic web sites. Republicans were more likely to have blogs, multimedia elements and video while Democrats had more team building tools. The blogs they saw were very dry, no comments and not up-to-date. None of the candidates were video blogging and had not integrated any real social networking. Most of the web sites focused on funderasing and had either welcome messages, video clips syndicated from news sites and no real compelling content. Todd Zeigler said he was following several candidates on Twitter and noted some of them did have a "cluster of icons" on their web sites representing their social networks but mostly recycled content between Facebook and their websites. He said most of them probably know the secret to video, that it's a lot of work.

Here are of a few the web sites they liked:
Everyone who joined this video conversation were first time ooVooers and said that it worked well and that they would ooVoo again. I have three more My ooVoo Day With: Political Edition video chats scheduled this Sunday which I'm looking forward to with Matt Parker on General Q&A on the latest news and some predictions about the Presidential Campaign, with Eileen Smith and Mike Chapman on Presidential Campaign 2008 and with Erin Kotecki Vest on Obama.

Thanks again to the people at Crayon and ooVoo for hostings these great events!

About Todd Zeigler:
"In his time at The Bivings Group, Todd has helped manage online campaigns for the firm's biggest political clients, including Friends of Fred Thompson, Governor Bobby Jindal, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In working with these clients and others, Todd has developed ambitious e-advocacy programs and custom Internet applications, helped manage crisis, and created and implemented online marketing strategies."
About The Bivings Group:
"In the name of full disclosure, The Bivings Group currently does work for a variety of Republican organizations and a few Republican candidates for office."
About My ooVoo Day Political:
"My ooVoo Day Political is an eight day online video chat event joining leading political bloggers covering the entire spectrum of belief and persuasion with their communities, fans and friends - enabled by ooVoo, the leader in face-to-face multi-person video communications"