One company which I think is truly pushing the boundaries in terms of providing web tools to engage with supporters of a campaign is the little know company Act.ivi.st.
The essential premise is that supporters go onto a website which presents them with a range of activities they can undertake in return for points. There is a leaderboard for registered users, and of course, the more the supporter does the higher they rank. There's a part of me that shakes my head at this, but then theres a part of me eagerly wanting to join a facebook group so I can get 25 points.
One site which has used this technology is Cash Gordon the Conservatives attempt to get people interested in the idea that the Unions are basically bankrolling the Labour Party. Its worth taking a look to see what sort of options you have. You can read reports, post on Twitter, join Facebook groups and so forth.
Its a pretty smart way of mobilising people and encouraging them to get involved. The leaderboard is a nice touch.
Now, the downside of this is that act.ivi.st does have a very 'off the shelf' look to it, and that was quickly picked up in the media.
Also, in the specific case of Cash Gordon, the team that put it togeather didnt notice that they'd left an exploit in place which allowed Twitterers (Twits?) to hijack their site. This of course led to much hilarity as the site took you to, amongst other places, the delightful Lemon Party, and the equally fun Labour Party website.
Personally, I'd probably think twice before I used act.ivi.st, but only because of the off the shelf feel to it. I worry that in a couple of years 1000 people will have used it and it won't be fresh.
What it does offer is a great case study of one of the most important parts of a campaign. Finding a mechanism by which a fan, becomes an follower, and an advocate. One of the finest practical demonstrations of this is avaliable in this fantastic video
(At some point I'm going to write a post devoted solely to this video)
At the end of the day there is no better way to transform someone from a passive fan to an active member of a movement than reward. Shirtless dancing guy rewards his first follower with direct recognition. But this reward can be almost utterly imaginary, points on act.ivi.st don't cost anyone anything, but they are a motivator. The inclusion of a ranking system is a work of genius.
The best tool I've ever found is direct contact, either through email or on the phone. It has to be personal, or as personal as you can make it. There are some tools which I'll write about down the line you can use to distribute mass mailings with a degree of personality.
Act.ivi.st is a great tool. Novel and with great potential. I don't think it'll change the world, but it will definately help some campaigns get more people interested and doing small scale action.
The main flaw of this service is that it only gets people doing thinks behind a keyboard. It wouldnt get people to form a flash mob, or to set up a meeting with someone, or even pick up the phone, as there is no way of rewarding this activity.
It's not perfect, but its out there, doing something new.