Trickle-Down Webonomics: Even Smaller Campaigns Can Set Up Social Networks

Article excerpt

This election year may go down as the one that launched a thousand social networks.

Less than two years after they gained attention beyond college campuses, Facebook, MySpace and their online kin have become indispensable campaign tools. And before these networks have truly been proven effective at the presidential level, they already are filtering down to state and local campaigns.

With unlimited funds, a campaign can whip up something like MyBarackObama.com, the innovative social networking site created by the Democratic senator's presidential campaign. But those with smaller war chests may prefer to piggyback, using software that can be customized for each client.

"Obama's definitely done a great job at going beyond just social chatter online and getting people to do things," says Caleb Clark, chief executive officer of We The Citizens, an Atlanta-based software company.

Like the Obama campaign, WeTheCitizens has developed software to the in online networking and real-world activity, such as calling undecided voters and door knocking. The company's clients include Sonny Perdue's successful gubernatorial race in Georgia and Rudy Giuliani's presidential primary campaign.

On its surface, the software resembles Facebook, with a social-networking component where members create profiles. But it has other features to spur action and, just as importantly, allow campaigns to keep track of who's doing what.

"It's focused on what they need in the end, and that's getting people out away from the computer and going door-to-door, making phone calls and going out to vote," Clark says. The software's base cost is $2,800 per month for a congressional race, the smallest campaign currently served by "WeTheCitizens.

The Giuliani campaign began eyeing the software in spring 2007, according to Katie Harbath, who was Giuliani's deputy e-campaign director. …