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Learning from the Obama Campaign
Since Tuesday I've seen lots of stories and posts about what marketers and PR people can learn from president-elect Obama's use of social media. My main takeaway: wait. There's more to learn in the coming year as President Obama mobilizes his social media skills to use the power of "We, the People" to trump the lobbyists and legislators who will try to advance their own agenda over his.
There's no doubt that the Obama campaign masterfully used social media to mobilize new voters. There's no question in my mind that this race will mark a watershed in campaign media stratgy not seen since the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy campaign ushered in the era of political television strategy.
But the real story is just beginning. A savvy social media user like Obama won't disband it, in the way he disbands his campaign staff. In the coming year, President Obama will mobilize this network to help him drive change and repel the usual Beltway obstacles that are undoubtedly already plotting to drive the agenda their way.
This will be an even greater testament to the strength of American democracy than electing an African-American to the presidency, which is rightly hailed as a great moment in America. If he can leverage social media to offset the forces of money and special interests that drive so much of our national agenda, an historic election will be followed by an even more epochal change: a return to "We, the People" promoting the general welfare and not narrow interests.
Marketers and PR people take note: this will also signal the end of the campaign-oriented mentality of our current approach. It will usher in an era of understanding that a brand relationship doesn't begin and end with a purchase or a coupon redemption, any more than a presidence begins and ends on election day. It is a living, breathing bond that can now be nurtured in a way impossible before the advent of social media. Strong brand bonds will trump even the best advertising and promotions of brands without this relationship.
Can the marketing and PR professions make this change?
Yes, we can!!
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This is NOT a "social media strategy"! It's called e-participation or e-democracy and there is a definite and growing literature and practice worldwide. Let's not oversimplify things and reduce everything to marketing or PR strategies...we don't do justice to these business disciplines or even Obama and his great staff.
Posted by: Vassilis | Nov 7, 2008 11:04:53 AM
I am really looking forward to what Obama plus social media will amount to. The reach of the web plus its interactivity make it a much richer media than ordinary tv. The involvement of the people will play a major role on the rise of the web 2.0 driven 'change'.
Posted by: Howtoorigami | Nov 7, 2008 10:50:04 AM
@andres: I think this was part of a bigger plan. That just tells you that the people behind Obama has everything planned out and executed well.
As far as SM having a part, I have to agree. Maybe Obama may not have been directly involved, but the campaigners definitely have. His people are heavy media players. I think that hit a high note on the young voters.
Jim made a good point. Marketing will now be trending towards more relationship building. Wait till more businesses adopt S/M, that's Web3.0.
Posted by: George Manlangit | Nov 6, 2008 7:29:39 PM
Nice post Jim. Blake
Posted by: Blake Cahill | Nov 6, 2008 7:28:40 PM
Andres: thanks for the heads up. I just checked out the site.
On the blog http://www.change.gov/newsroom/blog/
there is this explanation of the purpose of the site:
"Change.gov provides resources to better understand the transition process and the decisions being made as part of it. It also offers an opportunity to be heard about the challenges our country faces and your ideas for tackling them."
Involving people and listening to them -- THAT's a social media strategy.
Posted by: Jim Nail | Nov 6, 2008 5:32:02 PM
Matt thanks for your comment. Not being a big believer in Twitter, I don't particularly care whether his tweets were good, bad or indifferent. I'm more of a fan of having a million members on my.barackobama.com which created a community and put a lot of tools in their hands to spread the campaign. That's real social media strategy, not tactic.
Posted by: Jim Nail | Nov 6, 2008 5:24:39 PM
Just as another proof of how important the web is for Obama, just take a look at his new website. He's been president elect for less than two days and he already has a Government website:
Posted by: Andres | Nov 6, 2008 5:22:40 PM
Well let it be known, Obama did not use social marketing like you've cleverly written. Let's take the twitter account for example that was Obama's for connecting with other twitter users. How many 'tweets' did you see where Obama directed a message to someone? If he did, that's where social marketing comes into play; interacting with other people. But since you can only see 2 out of the 54 updates, there is very little social marketing going on here. And this is just one example..
Posted by: Matt | Nov 6, 2008 5:05:43 PM
Its great to see how web 2.0 was used by the Obama marketing team with such great results!, who said web2.0 was dead???:)
Posted by: Elliot | Nov 6, 2008 4:55:06 PM
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