Social Media Lessons from Barack Obama

Posted: November 5, 2008 in web 2.0
Tags: , , , ,
barack-social-mediaWith Barack Obama’s incredible campaign success, I thought I’d kick off this blog by looking at how they used social media so successfully – esp as it’s the first US presidential campaign to make such widespread use of the Internet.  To begin with they have a pretty impressive website http://www.barackobama.comwith very clear and rich information, and easy to use navigation.  The site includes videos, photos, a blog, and embeds content from social media channels.
The use of social media was pretty extensive, including:
  • Twitter – Obama is the most followed twitter account (with 117,025 followers vs 71,000 for the 2nd most followed)
  • YouTube – over 1600 videos
  • Over 50,000 photos on Flickr
  • Facebook pages, MySpace pages, LinkedIn, Meetup, FriendFeed
All of this is very impressive, especially the sheer volume of content and connections.  But, I think the driving force that brough it all together was the “MyBO” community platform created by – a personalized space for campaign coordinators to collaborate with supporters.  It is a truely empowering collaboration site that helped people to take ownership of campaign activities – something I feel made a big difference in the success of the site.
MyBO allows people to:
  1. Create their own profiles, with personal details, including why they support Obama.
  2. Create and join groups (over 20,000 different groups) to connect with local people, or others with a shared interest (single mothers, air traffic controllers, etc).
  3. Easily contact voters – a feature that automatically finds local potential supporters to contact, based on your address; creates a printout of address/call list with names, script for conversation, and a map of where they live; report back feature for campaign office to track results.  Very impressive way to easily coordinate volunteer campaign supporters with a minimal amount of effort needed from the volunteer (they can do it from the comfort of their own home).
  4. Setup a personal blog to share their own comments and views (not many sites allow visitors to setup their own blog & publish their own content).
  5. Post or view campaign events – the locations, details, help needed, etc for local community campaigns or rallys
  6. Personal fundraising page – the ability to setup and customize a personal page; send personal invites to people (with a default but customizable message); track how much support you have brought into the campaign; automatic aggregation of all personal pages for the campaign HQ.
myboThese impressive collection of tools made it easy for people to connect with and collaborate with other supporters; and for the campaign coordinators to not only drive and steer the efforts of others, but to empower people to take action on their own.  The site also provides an excellent crossover between online and offline activities – using tools to organize and drive campaign efforts for phone campaigns; in-person meetings and rallys; postering; door-to-door campaigns, etc.  The site also focuses people’s efforts at mobilizing volunteers to get out there and talk to people who are not already supporters (instead of making a space for existing supporters to talk amongst themselves without reaching out to others).  MyBO provides the groundwork messages, values, and ideas of the campaign, and helps people integrate them into their own message, and empowers people to spread the ideas as their own message.  One final feature – donation matching – created a connection between first time donators and new donators, promoting dialogue between established and new supports to discuss why each of them donated, their beliefs, values, etc – a way to further solidify support for Obama.MyBO proved to be very successful:
  • Over 1 Million people created a user account
  • Over 75,000 campaign events were organized or promoted through MyBO
  • Donation efforts helped raise over $250 Million
A final thought… social media/web 2.0 is not just about making it easier to connect people to each other, it’s about empowerment – to create, to take ownership, to have control.
  1. Brian Beehler says:

    Mark, its amazing to see how Obama has revolutionized the way politicians and businesses could potentially use Social Media. I was very impressed with his recent broadcast of a virtual town hall and use of YouTube to communicate with Iranians. I believe that he will continue to utilize the internet further and will probably come up with ways that will create waves within the industry.

    I have been reading allot of blogs concerning how Obama is using the web and I find your thoughts well organized regarding this. Thanks again another good read!


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