The rules of advertising have changed drastically in recent years, due to the significant growth of social media. It has become the online advertising strategy du jour for organizations in every industry, but one area we have see the effects of this prevail more and more in recent years is politics.
The tech-savvy campaign that Barack Obama’s aides unveiled six years ago is a case in point. It was historically significant for two reasons; not only was Obama the first African American to be elected president, but he was also the first presidential candidate to effectively use social media as a major campaign strategy. Obama created an environment of transparency never before experienced in American politics.
His strategy? Personalized tweets; Facebook updates, and his very own YouTube channel.
The Obama campaign reached 5 million supporters on 15 different social Networks, and by November 2008, he had approximately 2.5 million Facebook supporters, 115,000 Twitter followers, and 50 million viewers of his YouTube channel.
Given how ubiquitous social media is today, it’s easy to forget that when Obama announced his candidacy in 2007, Twitter had only just started and the concept of sending out voting reminders on Facebook was unheard of.
So how exactly did Obama’s team use technology to change the face of campaigning?
The Obama campaign didn’t simply create a Facebook fan page and expect things to take off: they created a sense of involvement, participation and purpose in their supporters, which was funneled through social networking platforms. It connected people with real-time political events and discussions, and gave them an easy and accessible way to show their support for change.
We can all learn something from the Obama campaign when looking to recreate this sense of energy and involvement.
Be authentic: Obama brought personal connection to the social web, which is what made the campaign so effective. His facebook page listed his favorite music and his personal interests, (which included basketball and spending time with kids). His staff constantly updated their social profiles, telling people they were on the campaign trail, eating pizza or stuck in traffic. This familiar social interaction reached out and spoke to people on their level, and made everyone feel like they were part of one big conversation.
Every bit of support counts: 80% of the $639 million dollars Obama raised came from donations that were of $20 or less. The Obama campaign acknowledged that everyone, regardless of income or background, is an important participant in creating change, and in recognition of donor’s support, the team hosted two “Dinner with Barack” events, in which four donors were selected at random, to have dinner with Barack, and discuss the issues that mattered most to them. The dinners were filmed, broadcast on YouTube, and went viral when viewers re-posted them on their blogs.