Politics going mobile: How politicians can use mobile apps to win votes

Running for mayor? There’s an app for that.

Actually, there probably isn’t. But soon enough, there will be. Following the evidence successes that come from proactive online campaigns – look no further than Barack Obama’s Twitter/Facebook/website election extravaganza – rising politicians are seeing the value of a strong digital component.

Now, it’s being taken to yet another level.

A specific candidate in an election should have, experts now say, his or her own mobile app, according to an interesting piece in the Globe and Mail:

Observers and campaigns who’ve created their own mobile applications predict they will soon be a requirement for anyone hoping to get elected.

The latest politician to launch an app is B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon, whose campaign has created free downloadable programs for both the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Other politicians who’ve tried beaming their message straight to voters’ phones include Tim Hudak, the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party, B.C. cabinet minister Rich Coleman, former Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien, who used an app during his failed re-election campaign last year, and Calgary’s new mayor, Naheed Nenshi, among others.

The apps’ content are hardly groundbreaking: essentially, it’s the candidates online campaign summarized, featuring a bio, Twitter feed, Facebook wall, press releases, photos and videos, etc. Naturally, they’re free – I imagine charging potential voters for such a thing would guarantee failure.

News spinners are buzzing about how much media attention mobile apps for politicians are garnering, but this is only due to the fact that it’s “new.” Once every would-be mayor and their dog has a mobile app, not only will it garner no special attention, it may even revolt the politics-fatigued population. Really, how much more campaign content do we need shoved down our throats? Still, there is some potential for th e truly innovative. I have a couple of solutions to keep things interesting.

I would suggest to future app-launching electoral candidates that they include extra features – easter eggs, perhaps, where if you poke around the app’s links enough, you may uncover the dirty, sinful secrets each politician so deftly hides. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about a game – Whack-A-Minister, anyone?

These highly engaging bonus features will ice the cake for potential voters and may just be the difference maker in your mobile campaign. Just don’t forget to go back on your promises once elected!