It looks like a battle front for this year’s elections will also be fought online. South Africa’s biggest political party is attempting to raise the (rather low) bar by announcing a mobile site, enhanced presences on social media platforms, and an online initiative, myanc.org to invite debate, comment and networking around their election manifesto.
The ANC announced it is “launching an initiative to encourage discussion of its 2009 Election Manifesto online, using the web, mobile phone and popular social media platforms to bring the ANC closer to the people, and people closer to each other.”
Weak attempt. No social network.
Unfortunately, my initial optimism proved unfounded. myanc.org fails to adopt any of the social networking functionality that made the Barack Obama campaign one of the most sophisticated online political campaigns ever, inspiring the world and credited with helping Obama raise funds — and win an election. The myanc.org. is a pretty basic site that really fails to deliver on the sophistication needed to mobilise online voters, get them to blog, campaign and then vote.
While the site does emphasise and encourage user participation, it does this mainly through forums, which is pretty old and rudimentary web functionality to interact with users. In my humble opinion, forums belong to the web of five years ago — and social networks arguably are more sophisticated expressions of them. It’s nice to see that the site at least has a mobile presence and some multimedia. So, although an improvement over the ANC’s dated main site, myanc.org doesn’t really show much innovation or sophistication.
The ANC has also established a Twitter feed and a You Tube channel (interestingly called “elections 2009″ not “ANC”) to complement its various Facebook groups “via African National Congress moderated groups and those set up by passionate individuals”.
(Post updated since the launch of the myanc.org)