Marshall Sponder at WebMetricsGuru threw out an interesting thought in a recent post about presidential candidates using social networks where he asks if Barack Obama should start his own affiliate network.
This was something I hadn’t thought of before. Primarily we see affiliates for ecommerce merchants and than various offers and lead generation. I don’t recall ever seeing an affiliate network used for a person, political organization, charity, or other cause.
As Marshall writes:
Why not go all the way …you want traffic, you want awareness, use some of that campaign contribution money and start your own affiliate network.
And while your at it, reward affiliates for every sale of a t Shirt, Magazine, book, video, etc. Harness the market forces towards your advantage. You got the social network…now use it.
Politicians already have supporters who are usually either paid full or part time positions, and then a huge number of unpaid supporters who push them and their ideas because they align them or their party. Would an in-between work where people were actually paid for bringing some measurable effect to the campaign? As Marshall noted, you could reward affiliates for referring people who buy products, or who end up donating money, or who signup for an email newsletter.
My first thought was “boy, that would kind of dirty the process.” Then I remembered we’re talking about political campaigns here, it’s hard to get much worse. A campaign manager is paid, so why couldn’t a supporter of Obama get a small fee for every legitimate email address she or he refers to signup to the Obama mailing list? Or a 10% cut of any donation money she refers? It might blur the line between knowing if your friend really believes in Obama’s ideas, or is just doing it for money, but in some ways it’s just about getting people to learn more about the candidate and make their own decisions.
If this was done right, some super affiliates could get involved and potentially really drive value to a campaign, and it might be a whole lot cheaper and more effective than television.