Sunday, December 7, 2008

Three Learings From Obama's Online Marketing

It is just over a month since Barack Obama won his historic bid to become President of the United States. And as the dust settles you have to admire how his campaign used new media tools to get out his message of change to Americans and the rest of the world.

US viral marketer Jalali Hartman looks at Obama online, and concludes that by dominating the Internet Obama's message carried further and faster than his rival's John McCain.

Hartman's statistics tell it all. Obama had 5.5 million visitors to his website each month. McCain had 2.5m visitors. There were 442 000 Obama Youtube videos compared to 221 300 items featuring McCain. Obama had over 3 million friends on Facebook while McCain registered just over half a million supporters.

Obama's online campaign used three strategies others could use to promote their own issues and causes.
  • Share content Obama campaign managers had a no hassle copyright policy. They willingly shared the candidate's speeches, images, official logos etc with online supporters and encouraged them to re-purpose it for their own needs. Supporters could also download official campaign signs, literature and guidelines and receive up to date news of events.
  • Connect Facebook and other social networking sites connected supporters . Both Obama and wife Michelle had their own pages and friends created their own affiliated groups. The campaign also used Twitter (the micro blogging application) to keep followers informed about campaign developments such as appearances and speeches.
  • Make it easy to create community The official campaign website was structured to allow individuals to organise within their communities by offering tools, contacts and opportunities to share their own stories.

Obama's mastery of the online world contrasts sharply with the efforts of Australia's political parties in the 2007 Federal Election. A March 2008 report by the Australian Centre for Public Communication showed use of new media by Australian politicians remains low.

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