Friday, 23 January 2009

Another week, another interesting indulgence in the world of social. There has been a lot of chatter about Obama’s impact on the world and the inauguration of the first ever black President of the United States. Quite an emotional and awe inspiring scene from the US and a genuine sense of optimism. I have followed with interest the role of the Internet and specifically social media in Obama’s rise and rise to office.

From the outset of the election trail and lengthy primaries, Team Obama has used persuasive engagement online to encourage more and more voters to engage with politics and embrace the Democratic candidate. The website also helped raise a record breaking amount to fund the election campaign and the financial impact of the online marketing was incredible.

What struck me was the engagement techniques that the Obama team used. If you check the official website you can see a link to the blog in the top nav bar. As well as regular updates, video has been embedded on this page and the ability to login in to the community site where you can interact with other voters to get active in the campaign trail. The page is personalised and acts like a social network. Here you can contact other voters, attend or organise local events, send and receive messages and link through to your Facebook account. Everywhere you go in the site, there are clear links to donate or buy Obama merchandise. The marketing and merchandising is effective but not intrusive.

Another neat touch is the “Obama Everywhere” panel that appears throughout the site. From here you can link direct into Obama’s profiles on the usual suspects, from Facebook (557,923 posts and over 4 million supporters) to Linked In, embracing the corporate and business market. There is a real intelligence to the targeting and relevance of all the profile links and the content you can find on each. Brilliant.

There is much more to this site in relation to use of social media, such as the links to the Barack Obama channel on YouTube (1,827 videos and 155,750 subscribers). Take a look around. I’m not saying it is the only way to do social media but the success of this engagement approach is proven and now much spoken of. The blogging world has embraced this event and there is a wealth of personal opinion being churned out. Despite my cynical view of politics, I genuinely enjoyed seeing Team Obama embrace online as a key channel to engage with and influence millions of voters. They are more in tune with the world and the younger generations than the Republicans. The rest is most definitely history.

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