Mirror Mirror on the Wall…Whose the Most Social Candidate (so far)?

by Marianne Richmond on February 11, 2007

With the launch yesterday of Barack Obama’s candidacy and his web site, many have noted that Obama has also launched a social network at my.barackobama.com.

 Several bloggers with expertise in social networks including Pete Cashmore at Mashable have given Obama a "more social" edge than Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Mashable states, "That said, it’s 100 times better than anything offering by Hillary Clinton or John Edwards." Steve O’Hear at ZDNet has said that Obama " is the first to create a fully fledged social networking site of their own."

Todd Ziegler at the Bivings Report had used the word chaotic to describe the Edward’s site which I noted at the Blog the Campaign in 08 Blog. Todd added a comment and stated that Edward’s blog network was "wonderful" but needed some functionality improvements. I would agree.

Having agreed, I thought it made sense to take a closer look at Edward’s and Clinton’s sites in relation to the features that make a social network a social network. Not that everyone will agree, but using the Pew Internet definition of a social network, " A social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users" these are the features that I will be looking at:

  • Profiles that include name, picture, and unique url for direct access.
  • Linking to and identification of other members as your friends.
  • Ability to invite members to join the network and be your friend.
  • Ability to connect with other members through comments and sharing content.
  • Ability to create a blog and to leave comments on members’ blogs.
  • Ability to join groups, create groups.

Mashable gives Obama high marks for his social network and states: " you can organize fundraising, create events, find Obama events near you, build a network of friends (that email invite system is crucial), send messages, join groups and write a blog about how you’re helping Obama, or how you feel about the Obama campaign. Groups are the way to connect to strangers on the network, since there doesn’t seem to be a browse feature (you can, however, search by name or zipcode). In many regards, it’s more like Facebook than MySpace or YouTube – simple, text-based and focused on connecting with people you know or those around you."

JOHN EDWARDS

Looking at the Edward’s site I will note that Edwards has two things going on, OneCorps and his Blog network. This I think causes some confusion as to what Edward’s really has going on with his social network/social media efforts and would lead to the conclusion, which is technically accurate, that he doesn’t have a functional social network. Todd Ziegler is correct in his comment.

Yesterday a blog post by Joe Clark listed a number of ways to get involved in the campaign and listed: Join the Campaign, Join One Corps, Contribute, Spread the Word, Become a Citizen Journalist, Join the E-Team, Get Mobile Updates, and Watch (and then share!) Videos of Senator Edward. There are lots of different places to go, but nothing encompassing like my.barackobama.com. Also, not being sure who Joe Clark was, I clicked on his name which tool me to an user url, but there was nothing there but a blank page.

So, OneCorps is the Edward’s campaign online community. This is where one can create or edit a profile, invite friends, find a local chapter (enter zipcode), find local and national events, and even sign a petition. There is not a "create a group" function although you can "start a chapter" nor is there a place that I noticed that identifies your friends. The OneCorp profile (a tab called MyOneCorp) does link to blog posts that you have posted.

Although Edwards is building a grassroots community here, you have to go to the Blog page, to get the blog features other than the link from your OneCorp profile. The About page says:

"The John Edwards ’08 blog is your blog. This page will tell you how you can blog here and participate in the conversation.

If you’re not sure what a blog is, or have other questions, there’s a glossary and a list of Frequently Asked Questions at the Learn More page. You can also get help at the Talk Live forum where other Edwards supporters gather to chat.

And he has some unique features: live blogger chat which typically seems to always have a discussion going on. There is a section called diaries which is a feed of blog posts."

There are two ways to blog on the Edward’s Blog: Homepage posts and Diary Posts. This is also a unique feature. The Homepage posts are:

"Featured on the the John Edwards ’08 home page. Anyone can write a post for the home page, but the community has to vote for it in order for it to make it there. To vote, you click on the "Recommend this Diary" link at the end of a post. (Posts by Senator Edwards, Elizabeth Edward and members of the Edwards blogging team are put on the home page automatically, in the Straight From the Podium column. Home page posts by bloggers are in the Open Mic column, right next to it.)"

The Diary posts are defined as: "Diary posts are exactly the same as blog posts except you don’t put them up for a vote. Anyone can read them or comment on them on your own Edwards ’08 blog page, and they’re automatically added to the Diary Posts list."

Comments are open on all posts and the page says, "we love comments." Edward’s also features a blogroll that consists of blogs chosen by the campaign as well as an invitation to submit your blog. I will also note that I submitted my blog quite some time ago to see what the process involved but have not received a response from the Edward’s campaign and I don’t believe that there have been additions (unscientific observation).

Of course the BIG QUESTION regarding all of the candidates is how active are they actually going to be in blogging and participation in social networks. Edward’s did post to his blog regarding the recent controversy involving Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan.The prior entry by Edwards was in December. I still think that puts him ahead of Obama and Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON

In terms of the definition of social networks, Hillary’s site doesn’t qualify at the moment. You can join her team, raise funds, find events and plan events but they are presented in a traditional campaign venue. No profiles, no friends, no connecting blogs, no sharing, no linking.

Her blog still carries the invitation to write her first blog post that was newsworthy the day she announced her candidacy, January 20th, but is looking dated now. Hillary has video and used it to announce her candidacy. Hillary has effectively used Yahoo Answers in her campaign, has a Facebook page and is using other social networks; and she gets social media credit for that. However, at the current moment, Edwards and Obama are way ahead in social media.

Of course, we will see as things progress, what this will mean in terms of the actual election the President in 2008.

I will note that at GigaOm, Om Malik has an interesting post up called, Are Social networks Just a Feature and Liz Gannes one called A Taxonomy of Social Networks that provide greater depth in looking at a definition of social networks.

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