During tonight's presidential debate, I paused my DVR to check out live blog coverage as well as each candidate's website. I've been curious to learn how social media tools are leveraged by both presidential candidates.
Obama's website with the heading "The Change We Need" features on the homepage both Barack TV and the latest Obama Blog post. Visitors can also access state-specific Obama sites, make a donation, register to vote and volunteer to support the campaign.
Right hand widgets welcome Hillary Clinton supporters and allow visitors to create a password-protected account to personalize their experience. Visitors can also sign up for mobile updates and join the Obama conversation on various social networks. News updates, an interactive map and apparel store complete the home page.
McCain's website implores visitors to donate today, join an online phone bank and "speak out" on the debate. Another feature allows campaign volunteers to earn points when they join the McCain team, contribute time or money and recruit friends. There are "Photos of the Week," news updates and upcoming events listed as well.
My favorite feature is the Debate Central component. If you click through, there are already YouTube videos, or "Debate Moments," featuring McCain's best sound bytes from tonight's debate. You'll also find quotes supporting McCain from various bloggers who covered tonight's debate live.
Overall, I prefer Obama's home page to McCain's. If I had more time to scour through, I might reach a different verdict. The wow factor at www.barackobama.com was Barack TV and the Obama Blog featured on the home page. Aside from that, mobile updates, the interactive map and the call to create a personal page were icing and a cherry on top. The site is warm and welcoming.
By contrast, I think McCain's Debate Central is pretty clever. Monitoring the blogosphere and posting snippets from nine prominent blogs in real-time – that's impressive. I also like McCain's Volunteer HQ "Campaign Action Center" enticing volunteers to earn points by supporting McCain, but the strong call to donate and recruit others started to verge on cult behavior.
No matter what political party you're backing this year, it's worth monitoring what tools each candidate is using to interface with constituents. After all, with our country's future at stake, couldn't we all afford to tune in?