The Internet is taking on an increasingly major role in political marketing and branding strategies. This is because of the use that the public itself is making of the Internet when taking part in the decisions made by their representatives and in the events of the environment they live in. These digital citizens have found in the Internet, particularly blogs, a new way of forming relationships with politicians, by communicating with them directly, coordinating their activities with other citizens with similar political ideals or even financing electoral campaigns. This article describes the use that some political leaders have made of blogs. Therefore, we analyze the two cases that represented the beginning of the use of the Internet as a major electoral tool: Howard Dean and Wesley Clark in the Democrat primaries in the USA in the 2003-04 campaign. Thanks to the analysis of these two cases and the theories developed around the concept of social capital and virtual communities, this paper presents the main characteristics of this type of digital citizen and the possible political marketing strategies developed around them. The analysis of these cases provides various implications for better management of these political marketing tools, whose potential is yet to be discovered.
From the first studies in the 19th century to the most recent ones conducted by e- marketing researchers, communities have been given special attention due to their role in the individual’s socialization and even their success in the business policy of companies. On the whole, we may define the community as a group of individuals, usually small, whose members feel committed to each other because of the common interests on a certain aspect. From a marketing perspective, Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) or Flavián and Guinalíu (2004), notice that communities (they use the term “brand community”) refer to the group of consumers who voluntarily relate to each other on the basis of an interest to a brand or a product.