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Hughes explained that from the moment users first logged in to the Obama site–my.barackobama.com or MyBO–they should have been automatically invited to join a local group. Instead, people had to go to an “events” link and take additional actions, such as clicking on a Google Maps application and taking the initiative to join already planned events. “We should be able to suggest a group to you,” Hughes said. “We made people do a little too much work.”

Hughes also said that future political campaigns could re-create their entire social-networking apparatus within existing sites like MySpace and Facebook, rather than mount partial such efforts, as was done in 2008. For example, Obama had three million supporters on Facebook. Hughes set things up so that these Obama Facebook supporters were told who, within their networks of friends, lived in a swing state, so they could exhort them to register, vote, and otherwise organize. In the future, Hughes said, “we could re-create our entire website on Facebook,” including all the blogging, meeting tools, donating tools, and other features of MyBO. (On a personal note, Hughes, who recently turned 25, said he will not be taking a job in the administration but rather will do private consulting.)

On the McCain side, officials said that one of the more successful strategies was buying ad words on Google, so that links to the campaign’s paid messages would appear when people searched for terms like “McCain” or “Joe the Plumber.” Indeed, some of these officials had high praise for the rapid service provided by Google’s marketing department. The McCain camp was able to very rapidly buy new words and get fresh ads posted during critical moments, including when Sarah Palin was first named as the vice-presidential nomination, and capitalize on the initial rush of Google searches performed by potential voters. (One of yesterday’s more interesting revelations: in the days leading up to McCain’s vice-presidential announcement, the Web team prepared five mock websites for five potential pairings. The McCain-Palin matchup was not among them.)

Looking ahead to 2010 and 2012, Mike Connell, a former Bush operative and president and CEO of New Media Communications, a company based in Richfield, OH, that provided the Web infrastructure for the McCain campaign, said that the balance of technological power is poised to shift to the Republicans. “It will be our most favorable environment for embracing new technology,” he said, “because of the precedent set by the Obama campaign.”

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Credit: Technology Review

Tagged: Communications, Web, Facebook, social networking, Web, social media, election, Barack Obama

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