Social networks like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube are used by people everywhere to share, connect, meet people, make personal and business contacts and bring attention to themselves. While it’s not so unusual to find companies or individuals using the social sites to their advantage, what is unusual is finding political candidates using the sites to further their political message, targeting specific groups and being completely successful in doing so. Less than 24 hours ago, presidential hopeful Barack Obama took the election win as the president of the United States. He maximized his use of social networks, making connections and convincing folks to become an integral part of his campaign. But how much did these social sites play a part in that happening for the candidate?
Some time ago – as a media relations experiment – I decided to see if there was any legitimacy to the claims of social sites “effectiveness” for politicians. I went to Twitter and found President-elect Obama’s twitter page and decided to connect to him and follow his tweets. Surprisingly (or maybe not), he connected to me within minutes and began following me and my twitter updates. Was I impressed? Well…
The social sites that Obama has a presence on has done a lot to help him winning the presidency. Barack and his team learned early on, very early on, the importance and significance of connecting with those that can make a difference. He was able to connect with people on a common, everyday level and win their trust and confidence in his objectives. The Obama team was able to use media platforms to further their mission, expound on their policies and keep their mantra, “Yes We Can”, in front of their audience at all times. The brilliance in the social media strategy is multi-faceted:
- The Obama campaign was able to successfully enlist the support and garner the votes of many brand new 18-year olds. “Students For Barack Obama, cannot drink legally, and if they didn’t vote in 2004, it was likely because they were just shy of 18 years old.” Full Story.
- Barack also allowed his supporters to interact with his campaign by inviting them to participate in his forums and by offering tools for supporters to schedule meetings about the election. “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.” Full Blog Post
- Mr. Obama strategically used his website and blog to keep his supporters abreast of his thoughts, appearances and most of all to keep them motivated. There are links on his website to YouTube videos, audio speeches and photos of his rallies and debates.
Finally, what is impressive about the campaign’s effectiveness is that it has set a standard for the way future campaigns will be run. No doubt that the losing party and any future suitors are taking note of the way Barack maximized social media and caused it to work to his advantage. What will possibly happen in future elections is that candidates will aggressively seize opportunities to use social media sites to their ultimate advantage, engaging and pursuing candidates to participate with them in their objectives. The impact will be phenomenal and the competition fierce. It worked this time. It’s bound to work again.
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