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Mr. President 2.0: Barack (Social Media) Obama – Part 1

November 9, 2008

(This is two part series article)

I just had to use social media as his middle name. It is important to analyze how Barack Obama could leverage his views and personality to reach out to voters using social media tools. American elections created history of sorts – one and the most obvious one being elected as the first African American as President. Second and not so obvious one being use of social media for his presidential campaign by his campaign managers.


Let’s break it down into steps.


1.    Voter Generated Content:

First thing that stood out of the campaign was his website. It allowed the voters and fans to not just learn more about him but also organize meetings and fan clubs on his behalf. Voters could download tools and use them in a manner they felt best to help them organize meetings. There was a ‘download’ section where voters could use donation widget, get campaign materials and Obama badges.   

People customized content from his website

People customized content from his website

The campaign managers had hosted the blog on the website which was more personal in nature and allowed the president elect to share his views and thoughts at frequent intervals. Users could upload their photos and videos, of the meeting they had organized, on his blog for others to see.

Allowing people to create their own content is the golden rule of social media. Barack Obama got more people to participate in his campaign because of this.


2.    Generate more funding:

It was clearly evident at the primaries stage itself that Barack Obama was generating a high level of funding. There were times when Hillary Clinton was reported appealing to her supporters “I hope you’ll go to my Web site. Share your thoughts with me, and help in any way you can.”  Obama on the other hand had used his immense fan following to generate online donations. He created donation widgets and placed them on all of his profiles in various social media platforms. I am sure people wouldn’t have felt an easier way to contribute towards their leader’s campaign. As a matter of fact, majority of his donations were in lots of ‘sub $200

Donation Widgets on across all social media platforms

Donation Widgetson across all social media platforms

 This worked right through even while contesting with Senator John Mc Cain. The ‘Obama-everywhere’ strategy raised more than $105 million in the first six months of the year, compared with Senator John McCain’s $76 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Obama’s campaign said that as much as 88% of donations stemmed from online sources.

3. Voter Segmentation:  

By Age: It was hard to believe that presidential candidate actually had a profile on Facebook and then on MySpace. His profile on Facebook and MySpace was interactive giving his fans of 18-25 age group an opportunity to interact with him – much different from just placing banners ads that are barely effective and not personal.

On the other hand, he created his profile on eons – a social networking site targeted to the ‘boomers’ where he talks about his growing up days as that was more relatable to them.

By communities: Besides having his presence on Facebook and MySpace, Obama also created his profiles on Black Planet, on MiGente and on GLEE (Gays, Lesbians and Everyone Else)  targeting the African Americans, Latinos and Gays and Lesbians. The campaign managers also created a separate section for AAPIS (Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders) on his website

Reached out to professionals: It was even more surprising to find his profile on Linked In  where I am sure he would have discussed his view points on business, income tax and finance. There are separate group created on linked too where his followers could download badges and give their suggestion to him.

Hope you are with us till this stage. We continue the analysis of Barack Obama social media campaign in the second segment

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2008 9:27 pm

    Good Work. The Obama campaign has certainly raised the bar for other political campaigns to follow.

  2. November 10, 2008 10:08 am

    Thanks Tim. Good time for digital agencies as this opens up one more revenue stream

  3. November 10, 2008 2:59 pm

    You are right, although it is fair more complex and insightful than you suggest. I was beginning to fall out of love with democracy until this happened. Of course, he had a good product to sell too – it helps.

  4. November 10, 2008 3:15 pm

    You are correct Caroline. His charisma and attitude made him create a huge fan following for himself

  5. November 13, 2008 8:46 pm

    Great Article… I knew some of this.. but you did an awesome job of putting all the facts in one spot! I know his face was on every facebook profile page I’ve looked at for months and months. What a great example of the perfect marketing campaign!

  6. November 13, 2008 9:43 pm

    Thank you Chris for your kind words. Do subscribe to our feeds for regular updates on social media.
    I like the information that you have provided on your site to help out small business on the Internet

  7. November 14, 2008 12:04 am

    Great article. Extremely useful. The things that stand out for me are:

    – Different tone, ‘place on social media’, and different content for different target audiences.

    – a multifarious personal presence

    – Strengthening the branding with free tools that further build on brand identity.

    I think some of these things can urgently be done with some large celebrities in India – maybe not to the extent that Mr. Obama used them albeit. Mere blogs, in my opinion will not do for them. Like Obama, they need to scale the social media ladder. I believe Milind Deora is on that track.

  8. November 14, 2008 3:27 am

    Thanks for doing this posting…it is very true. I have linked to it from my corporate blog!

  9. November 14, 2008 9:57 am

    @Harshil. Thank you for your kind words. I do also believe that Indian politicians can take a leaf out of it. And Milind Deora would be good choice.

  10. November 14, 2008 9:58 am

    @Jabriel – Thank you for linking it to your blog. Do subscribe our blog feeds for regular updates on social media


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  2. Mr. President 2.0: Barack (Social Media) Obama - Part 1 at Hillary Clinton On Best Political Blogs
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