A few days ago the John McCain campaign launched a new version of their social networking tool, McCainSpace.  Having written about McCainSpace critically before, I figured I’d share some quick thoughts on the tool:

(1) The new version is built using a white label social networking product called KickApps, and features your typical suite of socnet tools: user generated blogs, videos and photos, groups, user profiles, friends, etc.  Kickapps is a nice tool and McCainSpace is professionally done.  However, this is clearly an out of the box solution with generic tools that could be used to power a community of dog lovers or wine aficionados, for example.  There is really nothing about this social network that has anything to do with taking action and winning elections.

The secret of the success of Barack Obama’s social network is that at its heart it is really a social action center.  When you login to My.BarackObama, you are pushed to make phone calls to undecided voters, knock on doors and raise money for the campaign, not to produce content.  Sure, that functionality exists on the Barack Obama website but it isn’t the main point.  The main point of My.BarackObama is to help Obama get elected.  The same cannot be said for the much more nebulous McCainSpace.

Check out these screengrabs of the Obama and McCain tools to see the difference in emphasis.

(2) Even if you disagree with me and like the actual tool set of McCainSpace, I think it is too late in the game to be launching something like this.  Mike Turk summed it up pretty well during a conversation we had with Wesley Donehue on Twitter about the tool:

“Why, oh why? What possessed them to launch a new SocNet with 70 days left? No time to market and they should be beyond that stage.”

Exactly.  Communities take time to build.  This same exact tool launched a year ago might have made a real impact.  This late in the game it seems like too little too late to me.

(3) The McCain campaign’s commitment to their new toy seems pretty weak.  I found out about the new site via an email from the campaign.  However, when I go to the main website and click on the links to  McCainSpace, I’m taken to the old, extremely limited version of the tool people like William Beutler and Mike Turk have been rightly criticizing for the last year.    So there appear to be two versions of McCainSpace running concurrently.I can’t even find a link to the new McCainSpace on and there doesn’t appear to be any real integration between the new tool and the campaign website.  Given this, I think the new McCainSpace may  just be a case of the campaign throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, as opposed to a well thought out initiative like My.BarackObama.

What do you think?

Update: Since I wrote my post, the McCain team has updated their site to integrate McCainSpace in a much more cohesive manner.

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.