Clinton vs. Obama -- Who Better Engages 'Customers'?

Last Updated Jan 7, 2008 7:19 PM EST

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama treat their supporters differently. Clinton considers her backers as "customers" while Obama sees his supporters as "members", says consultant John Sviokla on a new post on Harvard Business.

The difference? "When you give money to Clinton's campaign, you get a confirmation. When you give money to Obama's, they automatically create a personalized membership location for you which looks a lot like a Facebook page," says Sviokla.

What Barack's online team understands and Hillary's does not, is that engagement -- not just money -- is how you win in this new peer-to-peer, attention-scarce, content-overloaded media melee of the Web -- and money follows.

Is this why Obama has captured the youth vote in early primaries? Is your company making the same mistake by not recognizing generational differents in your customers? Read the post and then cast your ballot with us.

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.