Crowdsourcing has been all the rage in the tech community the last few months. The term was coined in a June 2006 Wired Magazine article and describes a circumstance where “volunteers and/or low-paid amateurs use their spare time to create content, solve problems or even do corporate R&D.”

Following are some notable examples companies using crowdsourcing:

I find these projects fascinating. Interestingly though, political campaigns have been using crowdsourcing for years to help influence swing voters and get out the vote. Now we just have something to call it.
Both in 2004 and 2006, candidates and national committees for both political parties encouraged online volunteers to call friends and/or undecided voters and urge them to vote Democrat or Republican. The tools used are pretty sophisticated.

In many cases, volunteers are given the phone number of undecided voters in their area as well as a script and list of questions to ask when they call. After making the call, volunteers enter data about the voter contact and then are assigned additional voters to reach out to. The Republican National Committee is running a program using this approach this cycle. Some of their volunteers have made thousands of calls.

This cycle the Democratic National Committee is taking a more personal approach. Instead of giving you a list of strangers to call, they are encouraging their volunteers to get in touch with friends and family on behalf of the Party. The focus here is on sending emails instead of making phone calls.

Taking a similar approach, Connecticut Senate candidate Ned Lamont launched a website that focused on sending physical postcards to potential voters. Volunteers used the site to look up friends and family from the Connecticut voter file and then were able to create a personalized postcard that the campaign then mailed to the voter.

Will these crowdsourcing programs have a real impact on the election? Who knows. But I do know that the more personal the connection the more likely it is to have an impact.

As Seth Godin recently wrote in a post about his own annoyance at getting contacted by campaign volunteers and recordings from celebrities, “One call from a friend is worth 100 calls from an Academy-Award winner on tape.”

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.