At the core of the value proposition to politicians is the efficient and effective engagement of their constituents on a scale never before possible. From this engagement comes the development and promotion of policy that constituents feel they have ownership in.
Social websites also allow the efficient organisation of rallies and events, plus the coordination of volunteers and workers. Additionally, a dedicated social network is the ideal place to raise campaign funds through donations, subscriptions and sales of merchandise.
Whilst this is all occurring, politicians are building a rich source of qualitative and quantitative data on their constituents and their needs.
A dedicated social network lets a politician have a focused and controlled online space that facilitates the engagement of constituents on a scale that was previously not possible.
The dynamic environment that a dedicated social website provides lets politicians develop policy from live and active consultation with constituents, which creates a feeling of ownership among constituents, meaning they become social evangelists to the cause and the policy.
Political social networks make organising rallies and events very simply and straightforward; each event or rally gets a dedicated page within the website that works as an event management system.
Volunteers and workers are easily coordinated and managed using the group functionality, with volunteers and groups effectively getting their own mini network within the social website.
Increase donations - Campaign donations, subscriptions and sale of merchandise can be easily collected from constituents from within the dedicated social network site using add-ons and 3rd party apps.
A dedicated social network is a rich source of both qualitative and quantitative data on constituents and their needs.
One of the best examples of a politician using a dedicated social networking site to effectively and efficiently further his political cause (apart from Barack Obama) is Dominic Villepin during his challenge for the French Presidential election.
On his dedicated social network www.villepincom.net he and his team have gained over 10,000 core supporters with whom he has developed and promoted policy, coordinated volunteers and raised funds using blogs, videos, forums and organized events.
This site was the primary online presence for Dominic Villepin's campaign for President of France and has pioneered a new web presence for politicians that has only become economically possible in the past few years. It remains a social hub for political discussion to this day, continuing the impact of the political social website even after the election runs its course.
Visit the Dominic Villepin site www.villepincom.net to see it in action (please note that it was built a few years ago, so the web design is not as advanced as what is possible today).
The next section will use his network to demonstrate how any politician can do the same easily.
It is now possible to quickly and easily create dedicated social websites for a specific topic, passion or cause using software like SocialGO.com.
Software like this is similar to Facebook in its core community features, however can be styled to create any desired look or identity and also have website pages created on it. The networks can be private or public, but usually a mixture to protect certain data, but also give them some public visibility.
All members get an online profile, so other members can then interact with them via internal messaging, instant messaging, live video chat, forums, blogs and wall comments.
Plus members can watch videos, view photos, and participate in forums, read blogs and news. Given this vast array of functionality, a politician and his/her team have at their disposal a hugely efficient and effective way to engage large numbers of constituents in ways never previously available.
Thanks to online software like SocialGO.com anyone can create a website with a social network built in with relative ease, at a low cost and with no development skills needed.
An online social network website for a politician or political party can be easily integrated with an existing website or be stand-alone replacing the previous, static website. This has a number of benefits for politicians and campaigns:
Having set up your dedicated political social network, the next and possibly greatest challenge is getting constituents to join.
First and foremost the political website must have compelling content that the potential community members are interested to read, comment on and interact with. If the network is the focal point of the politician's policy debate then this is easily achieved. Critically, the politician should be seen to actively engage their members by posting blogs, having forum discussion, instant messaging chats and comments. Because each site has built-in member profiles, this is easy to create.
With your network seeded with good content you are ready to invite constituents to join. One efficient and easy way to accelerate membership is to import an existing database of constituents or followers to the network so they have ready made profiles before they join. They can then be emailed and asked to log into the network where they will have a ready made profile.
The social website manager can also use the invite functionality to invite known constituents and ask them to join, create a profile and then interact. Generally once you achieve around 150 members, subsequent content and members will become self generating and your political website will become self-sufficient - it has reached critical mass.
Finally, the politician or party can use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to reach potential members. SocialGO's software integrates with Facebook and Twitter, allowing for easy content sharing with social networks. These social networks play a critical role in building membership.
It is recommended that a Facebook page is created so that traffic can be channelled from Facebook to the dedicated social network where the politician will have more control and flexibility. Twitter can also be used to 'tweet' the presence and beckon membership of the dedicated political social network.
Thanks to online software like that supplied by SocialGO, anyone can create a website with a social network with relative ease, at a low cost and with no development skills needed.
SocialGO specialises in providing fully featured social websites with core social networking features starting from just $7.99 (£5, €7) per month for the Starter plan (do-it-yourself).
You can see all our Plans here. Next to the monthly price plans, SocialGO also has an expert web design team who can design and build your political website for you, from just $250 (£160, €200) one-off payment.
With these packages, SocialGO does all the design and setup work for the client, who can then take over the site for day-to-day management. Your site design and layout will be fully customised to suit the desired style or branding.
All sites and the networks are fully hosted so the client does not have to worry about servers. The higher-end plans come with unlimited bandwidth and storage, so the client doesn't have to worry about surprise costs. On smaller plans, SocialGO will contact you to upgrade rather than applying extra charges.