groundswell is the latest hot marketing book in the high-tech community (and I believe in a lot of the rest of the business community).

The book is Forrester Research’s look at what Web 2.0 means for business. What’s fascinating for everyone here is it’s look at how people use Web 2.0 for their political information.

For those wondering what Web 2.0 is, the technical answer is social technologies like blogs (that’s us!) social networks (like MySpace), YouTube, twitter, forums, wikis, etc.

But the best way to look at it is in terms of the relationship between companies, their customers, future customers, and others. What Web 2.0 does is turn it in to a 2-way conversation. This is radically new to business.

In the past a business owned a 1-way conversation about it’s product. Marketing put together programs and those all went from company to the market. Even info from the customer was tightly controlled by the company – the company would select the questions for a survey.

So how does this impact politics? Well Forrester brings up the recent example of what happened on Obama’s site after he reversed himself on FISA. The largest group now on MyBarackObama is the one opposed to that switch. He’s learned the downside of that 2-way communinication.

But it’s more than 2-way communication, it’s many-way communication. If it was just everyone able to talk back to the company or politician then it’s not that big a change. But what we have now is N-way communication where everyone is communicating with everyone.

When done well, it is an incredibly powerful mechanism. And Obama has just scratched the surface with his effort, but it’s still worlds beyond McCain. We’ll see significant advances in this over the next 10 – 20 years every election.

Is this important? Yes. It’s going to decide elections. And Democrats have an advantage here.

Ok, what are we looking at? This shows how active voters are in 6 categories of social activities on the web. If one of those bars was at 100% it would mean every voter in the country was involved in that activity.

The white bar is the average for adults in the U.S. for that activity across all interests from eBay to celebrity gossip to yes, politics.

Look first at the bottom “Inactives.” The inverse of that number is the percentage of people using web 2.0 for politics. So 60% of Democrats and over 50% of Republican and independents fall into one or more of the 5 preceeding categories.

Note: Independents in the Forrester numbers are people who actually vote a split ticket, it is not based on registration. So independents here are the ones who decide the election in the close races.

Ok, so we Dems are more active. And you see this in all 5 basic activities where Democrats have an edge. This means more posts, more comments, and even more people lurking. Content is king in web 2.0. And viewing is a close second.

What is even more interesting however is that over 50% of independents are using web 2.0 for part or all of their political news. Keep in mind web 2.0 is not reading candidate websites, news media websites, etc. None of that (outside of forums, blogs, etc) falls in this category.

Over 50% of Independents are using blogs, YouTube, forums, etc. for their political information. 10% of them are pulling in RSS feeds (Collectors), etc to get a stream of info. This is why Allen’s “Macaca moment” killed him – a tremendous number of voters are interacting with this stuff.

To shift to local news, this means ColoradoPols is one of the key loci for the election in this state. Independents gravitate to “independent” sources. They’re not going to join a candidate forum or group (although those are very valuable for the base). They’re unlikely to spend a lot of time on SquareState or FaceTheState because of their obvious bias (but again both are very valuable for the base).

Where they go is sources they find usable and, if not balanced, with a cross-section of informed discourse. And every way I look at it, ColoradoPols best matches those criteria. The Post & News are balanced and have comment sections but their sites do a lousy job of creating a useful web 2.0 type community. The interaction so critical to success is not there.

This is why the McCain campaign has aimed it’s shills here – Colorado will be one of the deciding states if the election is close. And Pols is almost certainly the top web 2.0 destination for that 54% of independents who use web 2.0 for their political information.

The McCain campaign is also smart to concentrate on having people post and comment because it’s that, not the ads, that have the power.

As to who wins on this battleground? To quote from a reviewer:

The data suggests Democrats have a healthy advantage over their Republican counterparts in the areas of Spectators (those that primarily consume the content) and Critics (those that enjoy opportunities to react). Thus, providing opportunities for your community to view and digest new and interesting content will feed the Spectator (i.e. content aggregation). Ensuring your efforts provide ample opportunity to comment and discuss is necessary to feed the Critic’s needs (i.e. comment tools, discussion boards, etc.). I am just scratching the service here of what this data means, but you get the idea…

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. sjintheknow says:

    I am here to tell the truth.  But mostly I do not want to see Obama bin Laden as our President.

    Like my name says I know what happened in the last election.  You Liberals told half truths and out and out lies and got away with it.

    I saw that more people read these fourms than anyone knows so I am here to balance and tell the truth.

    Groundswell just printed the fact that the internet and fourms make a difference.  I figured that out after the 2006 elections!

    Liberals slow on the up take!

    • Barron X says:


      By “got away with it,” do you mean “lost the Presidential election ?”

      The last Presidential election was in 2004, Bush v. Kerry, and Bush won.

      He even won by how many votes he got that time.  

      There were lies, and there were half-truths, on both sides.

      But what I remember is that the combat vet was portrayed as having shot himself to get out of combat, not true,

      and the draft dodger was portrayed as a real man and war hero, which is not true, either.  

      So, explain how it is that you are “here to balance and tell the truth ?”


  2. Barron X says:


    I apologize for contributing to the hijacking of this thread.

    The Book has some eye-opening insights.

    I remember in the 80’s when Forrester mostly just put on conferences.  They’ve come a long way.


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