28
Jul 10

VTGOVSM #4: Doug Racine

Doug Racine

Website: http://dougracine.com/

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Other Features: Interactive Calendar (Google), confirmation email for sign up (by now you all know I like this!), branding across social media sites. Share this and Facebook “like” integrated throughout campaign website (nice!)

What’s missing: No photo of the man himself on the homepage of the campaign website (no…really!), no BLOG (yet another candidate not sharing via a blog), no discussion area on personal Facebook page. Bland YouTube video presence. No LinkedIn presence, except for an entry for “Field Director at Doug Racine for Governor” which is marked private. No Twitter integration on campaign site.

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The Racine campaign is doing fairly well when it comes to the ego search. Campaign site is first and second, with Wikipedia entry third. Social media sites aren’t showing up well yet, although Facebook does show at the bottom of the first page of search results. Twitter shows up on the second page of results. Looks like Markowitz and Dunne are working the Adwords on this search as well. Again we have another campaign that isn’t blogging (at this point it’s clear that I’ll need to make the case to politicians in Vermont as to why blogging is so very important for a campaign – -and that, my friends will be a post that will come out after I’ve completed the Democratic candidate review), so there is nothing there to help with the SEO nor the content generation. Over at Bing there are similar results.

SEO Analysis: So yes, the campaign is doing fine.  An ego search pulls the main campaign site right up. The site design makes it easy to find social media sites with little effort. However, there is a general lack of content that shows up — there is some good press content that comes up none of which is campaign generated (yes, yes, this is part of my case for the blogging). The social media sites would improve in their rankings with stronger bios and stronger content. Facebook is in a decent position given the timeframe, and the campaign Twitter site is coming along. I’m disappointed in the lack of results of YouTube, but in looking at the videos the campaign has, they are really missing an opportunity to broaden the candidates ability to talk right to Vermonters. They are using speech footage and are leading with a news story from local Fox affiliate ABC 22. A stronger bio and descriptions for each video along with more one-on-one video from the candidate would improve that ranking.

The Website:

Doug Racine Campaign Website

I’m all about originality.  Actually I really like it when folks take a different approach to a website in a way that makes things interesting (not to be confused with “mystery meat navigation”) and less formulaic. However, this one really surprised me and I’ve seen many websites. Take a look at this screen shot. Show me the picture of the candidate. Really go ahead.  What does Doug Racine look like?  Can you tell easily without clicking on anything?  Ok, yes, there are those nice little photos of the candidate in various parades and functions throughout the state…but…what I first see when I come to this colorful site is VEGETABLES. I get it. It’s for the localvore tour. But for the first three seconds of my visit to the site I was confused. Really confused.  I thought I was at the wrong place.  My brain went…”Grocery Store?” then it went “Farm?”and then I was like all … “wait a minute, where am I?”  In looking for an image for my blog, by the way, I couldn’t find anything really useful on Google so went to the campaign Facebook page and dug through “profile images” in order to find the one I chose which I think is quite a spiffy shot of the candidate. So after all this, my advice to the campaign — get a picture of your candidate on that home page.  A nice picture (like the one I picked). Oh, and by the way, vegetables don’t vote. People do.  You’ve got your localvore dinners coming up…get some good shots of people EATING the localvore foods with the candidate and put that up there instead of the veggies.

Photo snarkiness aside, overall I do like this site. The home page is widget-ized (but most sites are) and lacks original content (see my earlier posts about this being an issue), but it is easy to navigate and find things right away and I’m all about usability. The campaign has nicely integrated the share this widget, they have the nice big green contribute button and it’s easy to sign up for the email updates (and they have the confirmation email!!), they’ve got a nice photo sharing section and I like how they’ve pulled in the YouTube videos to the site.

Not going to rant here like I did for the previous two candidates since I’ve already done it, but I will say that here we go, once again, no top level attention to technology infrastructure. This really pains me. Really.  Sigh. However…I looked a bit deeper and there it was, under “Economic Opportunity”: “A statewide, universal and easily accessible Broadband System is essential for Vermont. This will be an immediate and top priority of my administration. Vermont must invest in this infrastructure. As a rural state, we cannot rely on the private sector to provide this service – it is just not profitable given our small population. Instead, we must undertake an effort akin to the rural electrification project and ensure that all Vermonters have access to broadband that is reliable and affordable.”  (This, I like!)

Website recommendations:

Photo please. Thank you. Also as with the other candidates what I would like to see here is more personalized content.  The campaign has the boilerplate.  Now it’s time to make this personal by adding a blog that comes from the candidate and does more than report on the days events. Tell me what you learned, tell me what you will do, open my eyes to issues I should pay attention to. Engage me. Oh, and this is a very personal pet peeve, so don’t take just my word for it, but as a woman I DISLIKE intensely when there is a separate section for “Women” for the candidate (frankly I feel the same way about race, religion and any gender (I made this clear in the posts I did for the Presidential campaign)). It conjures up images of bake sales and “women only” events where we only talk about childcare and health care. Again, this is my own personal reaction, but it does beg the question I think. Why is the “Woman for Racine” button right on the home page? Why not “Men for Racine” or “Dogs for Racine”? I believe there would be more power in breaking out counties or looking at things more broadly such as “Environmentalists” for Racine or even better…”Republicans for Racine” (you know I had to go there).  Also please do more with your videos. I’m going to take some liberty here and recommend you all take a look at a site of a friend of mine, Joe Mescher. Look what one man can do with a smart phone that has video capability (disclaimer, this is a video he shot right after we had lunch and talked about technology and college students):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN6d2LRT_ps. Here’s another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhHrovhBmAM. It’s raw, it’s fun and they are a little over 1 minute long. What could the campaign do with a quick topic, a flip cam and 2 minutes? A great deal I’m thinking. Also note how Joe has added descriptions and information to his videos to help with SEO. Finally, consider pulling in the campaign Twitter feed (Twitter.com has several useful widgets) directly into the campaign website to show current information.

Social Media Tools: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

This campaign has a mixed result with the social media tools and much like the others is struggling to figure out the “secret sauce” that makes social media “social”. We’ve be trained to push content push content and push more content, so it is very difficult for the pusher to ask for engagement and the pushee is not expecting to be asked. This is what makes it so difficult. In general I’m not seeing the strength of the engagement level here, although by adding the share this to the website, the campaign is making an effort to help people to more easily share content. Specifically the next step to take is to really encourage your constituents and volunteers to use online tools the way they use face to face. Add more to your emails, create some interesting ways to use Facebook (take a look at what Matt Dunne is doing with the Q&A game) and consider ways in which you can leverage Twitter. Oh, and by the way, if you have a blog, it will make it that much easier (grin).

Facebook:

There are some interesting issues for the campaign when it comes to Facebook.  First, um, ok. I think this is the WORST picture of a candidate I’ve ever seen. What do you all think? Change it now. There are so many GREAT pics of Doug in the profile area, this one looks like it was pulled off of a TV screen (I’m betting it was from a recent debate). Personally I like the one I picked above.  However, more importantly is the fact that this site is a personal page, not an official page in Facebook.  From what I can tell, there is no official page.  What’s the difference you ask?  Well a personal page is where you “friend” people. The official page is where you “like” someone or something. Each has different features and options. There is also a community page but we won’t cover that yet (although this campaign should be aware that there IS a community page that is pulling in content when someone searches on “Doug Racine”.) Is there a down side to having the personal page?  Well, yep.  Personal means, well personal. It’s the page he would keep whether he wins or loses the race. It’s the place to stay connected to real friends (not supporters). The official page is the page to have set up for a campaign that can go away when the campaign goes away. It’s also where I can see how many of my friends “like” the campaign vs. how many new friends Doug has. It’s a nuance, but pretty important since Doug’s friends may not be my friends, I’m going to ignore it. However, if my wall shows that my friend Joe likes Doug Racine for Governor, then I’m going to take a second look. Take a look at Matt Dunne’s.  Here’s his “official” and here’s his “personal“. At this stage of the game, I don’t think the campaign should worry about this, but if they win the primary they better roll out a campaign official page ASAP.. The other implication is that because it is not an official page the campaign can not track engagement levels, can’t add in discussions and is limited in the programing they can achieve.  This is probably why overall the Facebook site for the candidate is ho hum. There are some great photos here (kudos) and some good posts that are asking for support, and talking about work the campaign is doing, but the overall engagement from “friends” is low (although as I wrote this post he went from 1,797 friends to 1,803!).

Twitter:

This campaign is tweeting up a storm. It’s the one campaign that is following more people than are following back! Here’s a sample:

  1. Doug says he loves #VT #farmersmarket shopping. “I don’t want to send my tomato $ to CA.” about 1 hour ago via HootSuite
  2. Local foods potluck at Lincoln Peak Winery in New Haven #vtgov #VT. Great turn out! about 2 hours ago via HootSuite
  3. We’re at the #midd #VT #farmersmsrket. #vtgov about 3 hours ago via HootSuite
  4. @James_Ehlers Thanks for the RT! about 5 hours ago via HootSuite in reply to James_Ehlers
  5. Spend an evening with @joetrippi on Monday, Aug, 2nd at Burlington Country Club, 7:30 pm.http://ht.ly/2hHo9 #btv #vtgov about 6 hours ago via HootSuite

As with the other candidates I’m seeing a lot of reporting about what we are doing, but not a lot of what I’m learning or why should you vote for me Tweets. For example the big push for the campaign right now is why local is so important…so…um, tell me why local is so important, and it should not be about $$$ going or not going to California. Link me to news items and resources that explain why local is good. How about encourage me to follow individuals who are big into localvore? (like the folks at SugarSnap). This campaign is also doing a lot of “thanks for following me” Tweets. I don’t recommend it. Substance and adding value will get you more visibility. There is a big difference between creating noise and creating value. Create value and you get retweeted to the people who follow me which might get you more followers who will spread your message.

YouTube:

I provided a great deal of YouTube advice above, within the context of the website and SEO. Liven up the videos, create short little snippets that are interesting and fun and give me more info about the candidate.

Social Media Recommendations:

Engage, engage, engage. Content, Content, Content. Easier written than done, but worth saying it over and over. Try polls, ask questions, encourage volunteers to use their social skills and share and retweet. Send out emails to your supporters and those who signed up to encourage them to join the Facebook page. Keep up the good work on the photos and keep thinking about ways you can add value and tell me more (read here, get going on a blog please).

Final Thoughts

This campaign is doing a great deal, but they have more work to do. They are handicapped by the lack of a blog and the fact that they are losing trackability and options because they are not running an official Facebook page. They need to liven up their videos and do more with Twitter — less reporting and more value add. This can be said for all the campaigns overall.