This post is part of a weekly Mobile Monday series on news, ideas, and strategies in the world of mobile devices.
Mobile is a huge trend right now, so it makes sense that political candidates are putting a lot of focus on it within their digital strategies. Especially as the election looms closer, it’s becoming more and more important for voters to have access to as much information about the candidates as possible, at any time and any place.
Last week, we looked at how the Obama and Romney campaigns were using mobile to raise funds, but this week we’re looking at part of the mobile strategies that is more beneficial to the individual voters: mobile apps.
Both political campaigns have had several incarnations of mobile apps throughout their campaigns. Let’s take a look at each:
Romney Campaign Apps
Over the past few months, the campaign has release numerous apps. The Romney-Ryan app seems to be the newest app for iOS and Android devices, and the one with the most features. With this app, you can:
- Read biographies and watch videos of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
- Receive updates from the campaign’s blogs and social media profiles
- Find campaign events near you
- Donate to the campaign
- Learn more about Romney’s politics and stances on issues
- Share information from the app via Facebook, Twitter, or email
- The With Mitt iPhone app lets you share your support for Romney by uploading a photo to the app, adding a pro-Romney overlay, and sharing it via Facebook, Twitter or email
- The Mitt Events app lets you find events and has directions to get there, then shows event news and photo and Twitter streams from events. To get the word out about the events, you can RSVP, check in, and invite friends to them.
- Romney’s choice for Vice President was supposed to be announced using the Mitt’s VP app for iPhone and Android.
The campaign’s digital strategy may have taken a blow when several sources announced Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate before the Mitt’s VP app sent out a notification. But the same thing happened in 2008 when the Obama campaign announce the choice of Joe Biden via text message.
While the With Mitt app may have made headlines for the wrong reasons when it was first released with “America” misspelled, the idea is a great way for the Romney campaign to take advantage of the popularity of photo sharing apps.
Overall, even though two of the apps may not have run as smoothly as the campaign hoped, the mobile strategy is still strong. Bumps along the road are to be expected. The concept behind With Mitt (which some people refer to as “Mittstagram) is an innovative way to get supporters to spread the word. I think it’s great that the campaign released an app that’s more for fun than for information.
The Obama campaign, on the other hand, is pushing one app with all of the information you may need: the Obama for America app for iOS and Android. Inside the app, you can:
- Receive news updates and look up information
- Find, RSVP to, and navigate to Obama campaign events
- Donate to the campaign
- Look up voting information for your location
- Take action by helping others register to vote, signing up to volunteer, or canvassing
- Share information from the app via Facebook, Twitter, email, or text message
The ability to use the app as a field organizing tool has received a lot of attention and criticism, but it is certainly innovative. A focus of this app seems to be encouraging its users to encourage voters to spread the word. In addition to information about states’ voter registration policies and polling places, it will allow users to report problems at polling places closer to the election. Hopefully, this app will ensure that any problems are reported immediately and resolved quickly.
Many voters are concerned about the amount of information it gives those who sign up to canvass, even though it is publicly available elsewhere. Once someone signs up to ‘take action,’ they can see a map of the neighborhood and go door to door, following certain scripts and entering people’s responses into a database, all through the app. This reduces the amount of work and travel required by volunteers, which may increase the amount of effort and time spent on the actual canvassing.
Which app do you think is more innovative and useful to voters? Tell us your opinions in the comments!