The Conservative Party is championing local activism with the launch of its new political campaigning website, modelled on the success of Barack Obama's pioneering digital offering.
MyConservatives.com allows supporters to self- organise around local campaigns and actions. It is the latest salvo fired by the Tories in what is shaping up to be the UK's first 'internet election'.
Digital specialist Simon Collister, head of public sector and non-profit at We Are Social, said the local strategy made sense in the run-up to next year's general election.
'It's a vital way for a campaigning organisation or political party to build social capital among the public that it can look to cash in on during a general election,' he said.
Conservative sources have said the new site is aimed at people who support aspects of Conservative policy but may not be paid-up party members. Users can make donations to particular campaigns and view other donations to the same campaign.
The site's fundraising model mimics MyBarackObama.com, which raised money for President Obama via, in large part, small donations.
However, Mandate associate director of digital Mark Pack, who previously headed the Liberal Democrats' new media operation, warned that the site's fundraising component would face 'cultural' challenges.
'The thing I'm most sceptical about is donations,' said Pack. 'There's a much bigger question mark about donating in this country.'
Others cautioned against the prospect of an immediate grassroots digital revolution in the UK.
Weber Shandwick Europe chief digital strategist James Warren said: 'The extent to which the British electorate - let alone Tory activists - are ready to engage in Obama-style grassroots hoopla remains to be seen.'
The new site has been developed by Tory new media chief Rishi Saha, working with global digital marketing and technology agency LBi.
It will be managed by Conservative Central HQ staffer Sam Coates.
Watch Mark Pack, associate director, digital, at Mandate, discuss the launch of myconservatives.com at prweek.com/uk
Produced in association with markettiers4DC
OCTOBER - Tories launch MyConservatives.com, hire digital democracy innovator Tom Steinberg as adviser
SEPTEMBER - Labour reveals its 'virtual phonebank' will be a central plank in its campaign strategy
SEPTEMBER - Online marketing agency LBi is named as the Conservatives' lead digital partner
AUGUST - Labour names MP Kerry McCarthy as its new media campaigns spokeswoman
JANUARY - Labour unveils social networking site labourspace.com
DECEMBER - 2008 Conservatives put frontbench MP Jeremy Hunt in charge of online campaigning
200k - Number of offline events organised through MyBarackObama.com
93% - Proportion of online Obama donations of less than $100
42.59 - Gordon Brown's social media rating*
62.49 - David Cameron's social media rating*
*Source: Yomego social media reputation audit