Sharing data and information is one of the central tenets of Web 2.0. The internet makes it easy for people to go to one source that combines the knowledge of a large group of people. A great example of this is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia edited entirely by users. You can learn more about Web 2.0 here >>.
Campaign 2.0 takes some of the best Web 2.0 ideas and combines them with the best aspects of a classic campaign. Campaigns want to contact and energize supporters without losing control of the message. Campaign 2.0 can help you do exactly that.
The key idea here is sharing your resources within your campaign. If you have all your data in one centralized system, whether its fundraising information or supporters addresses, then everyone working with the campaign has the chance to check that data and make updates themselves.
The difference for campaigns is that you can control which people you give access to and what theyre allowed to do. You dont want your volunteer to see your financial information? No problem. Theres no reason they still cant add new addresses.
And going beyond just a central database, you can set up things like distributed phone banks, which allow supporters to get a list of neighbors, call them with a set of questions, and then quickly send those answers back to the campaign. With a well designed system, supporters can make those calls and update the information from the comfort of their homes.
The internet was designed for speedy communication. However, with Web 2.0 weve moved from rapid communication to constant communication. The exact same message can be pushed to web-pages, RSS feeds, cell phones and more.
Campaigns have been using rapid response for years. Campaign 2.0 means doing that faster, as well as constantly keeping your supporters more involved. Tools like blogs give supporters regular updates and can often make them feel more connected to a candidate.
Campaign 2.0 also includes what we might think of as old style communications, like email and blast faxes yes, faxes can be Campaign 2.0. It's anything that can get your message out to people faster and more efficiently.
The Long Tail refers to businesses that sell small amounts of a large variety of products, like Amazon. A large proportion of their book sales come from obscure books, rather than bestsellers.
In campaigns, we often focus on a couple of major issues that dominate election news and debates (Iraq, the Economy, Social Issues). But there are thousands of long tail issues, ranging from local politics in a given state to interest groups. There is an avid fisherman vote. There is even a ferret owner vote. Because of the proliferation of places where people get together to discuss and share views on the internet, candidates can access these voters while still devoting major media time to the larger issues.
Just as Wikipedia lets anyone write an entry in the encyclopedia, some campaigns have experimented with letting supporters manage the campaign. Some people have described this as letting the inmates run the asylum. It has huge risks but it can also have huge benefits. When your supporters are given real power, they feel much more involved in your campaign. And an excited base of volunteers can be golden for a campaign. But there's also potential to do real damage, since this approach almost inherently means a complete lack of message control.
You saw this with the Howard Dean campaign and this cycle Ron Paul is taking the concept even farther. Ron Paul has done very well with fundraising, considering he is what is traditionally referred to as a fringe candidate, and he has gotten a lot more press coverage because of it. But because anyone can provide content, hes also gotten vocal support from neo-Nazi organizations and no candidate wants to be known for that sort of association. To a large extent, Ron Paul no longer has any significant amount of control over his campaigns message.
Going this route can be dangerous, so it should be carefully considered. No candidate has yet won a national election using this method. Despite all his press, Ron Paul is still considered an outsider with little chance of winning. It's the Hail Mary pass of political tactics.