On Jan. 3, Iowa Republican caucus-goers will pick their choice for presidential nominee. One of the seven remaining candidates will move a step closer to becoming the GOP’s choice to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. What online strategies are each of the candidates using to ensure that Iowa votes their way?
Mitt Romney’s digital team has been hard at work in the Hawkeye State. They released a YouTube videoexplaining the caucus, a process known to cause confusion for first-timers. Romney is using Storify to share information about campaign stops and post behind-the-scenes pictures as he tours Iowa. The campaign is using popular services like FourSquare and Tout to engage supporters.
Zac Moffatt, Romney’s digital director, said that the campaign is using data collected over 6 months to coordinate their geolocation-based digital effort. According to Moffatt, they’re using pre-roll video footage — short advertisements placed before other video content — in an effort to show Iowians how and where to caucus.
Moffatt understands how to use social media and digital advertising to generate offline action. The Romney campaign has identified supporters online, and gotten them in the door to volunteer in the real world.
“It’s fine for people to talk about how great social is,” said Moffatt, “but you have to leverage offline.”
Ron Paul has a huge online following, and his campaign is seeking to tap into that precious resource.
Paul’s website, ronpaul2012.com, features a donation drive with the goal of raising $6 million “to win in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada.” The campaign originally called for $4 million, but it upped the ante after surpassing that mark. The widget automatically shows recent donations along with donors’ names.
For those in Iowa, Paul’s site provides a number to call to hit the streets and volunteer. Another system allows out-of-state Paul supporters to dial into Iowa to encourage caucus-goers to vote for Paul.
Facebook users who “like” Paul’s page have been seeing an abundance of photos and links to live streams of Paul events in Iowa in their news feeds.
According to The New York Times, the Paul campaign has been asking its volunteers not to tweet about their activities or share them on any other social networks, presumably for fear of providing other campaigns with sensitive insider info.
Visitors to Rick Santorum’s website, ricksantorum.com, will find his “Iowa Surprise Moneybomb” donation page, complete with a countdown to the Iowa caucus. Like Paul’s page, the widget also automatically increases and proudly displays the names of donors. It also offers a widget for supporters to embed on their own personal websites and encourages donors to post about their donation on social networks.
His featured photos on Facebook are of a recent pheasant hunting trip in Adel, Iowa, a subtle appeal to Iowans. Santorum has been tweeting mentions of the word “Iowa” more often than other other candidate aside from Michelle Bachmann.
Santorum’s digital team is still being haunted by his “Google problem.” The first hit when searching for “Santorum” isn’t a campaign website or WikiPedia article. Instead, it’s a crude joke started by columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage in response to Santorum’s controversial comments about homosexuality made in 2003. Santorum asked Google to remove the search result this year, but Google has yet to do so.