The Australian election campaign is coming to an end with the poll just a few days away. Kevin Rudd is 18 years younger than the incumbent Prime Minister, John Howard, and has used digital extensively (far more than his opponent) under the Kevin07 banner. His efforts have been criticised by some for pushing information at voters rather than engaging them in two way conversations, but there is no doubting the importance that digital has had within the Kevin07 campaign.
The Kevin07 homepage (http://www.kevin07.com.au/) has been used to co-ordinate the various different online activity employed by the Rudd campaign. The homepage links to the Kevin07 Myspace pages, the Kevin07 Facebook Group and the Kevin07 YouTube channel. It also allows supporters to sign up to be distributors of viral email, runs polls / petitions and aggregates associated Kevin 07 blogs. Association with developing media channels (and the 'Kevin07' concept) has arguably allowed Kevin Rudd to appear modern and fresh compared to a long serving incumbent.
There are some interesting comparisons that can be made with UK politics. Like Kevin Rudd, David Cameron is significantly younger than his adversary and is seeking to harness online properties to help reposition the Conservatives as a party for the future. Kevin07.com has a UK equivalent in WebCameron and this is starting to become a well developed entry point to the internet.
A big difference though is that David Cameron is not running a scattergun approach and trying to use every channel he can find. He has (cleverly) resisted the lure of setting up Kevin 07 Facebook / Myspace equivalents and has instead focussed on running online video pieces in strategic areas. Webcameron carries video highlights, the Webcameron YouTube channel is used in a similar way and there is an interesting experiment that is running on Friction TV (though admittedly these all seem to have the same content showing.)
These channels do not necessarily have the visitor numbers of Myspace or Facebook, but they are appropriate for David Cameron's content and will engage people effectively as a result - something that may not have been possible with Myspace or Facebook.
However Webcameron and the other channels are not promoted particularly effectively. Occasional references to Webcameron in speeches (eg the recent Zeitgeist speech) will not drive traffic alone. An effective link generation campaign in conjunction with a targeted Search campaign could boost visitor numbers and engagement significantly. Viral ad messages spread through Facebook's new advertising system (targeted by voting preference / party identification) would also be an interesting way of reaching out to supporters and boosting the Conservatives 'modern' credentials.
Kevin Rudd is not the only politician running a heavy digital strategy, but he is the closest to election day. It will be a major coup if he can unseat the incumbent Prime Minister and if it happens, then the Kevin07 digital campaign will be widely credited. Barack Obama and David Cameron will be watching closely!