Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &market positioning &Marketing &Marketing Communications &Media &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 11 Nov 2008 10:11 am

Social Media Marketing and the success of Barack Obama

More than ever political candidates nowadays are seeing the huge advantages of market positioning and high tech PR via social media. Once in a while a candidate comes along and is a breath of fresh air. There was no better time for Barack Obama than now. With the 2008 election finally over, to the relief of many, we can sit back and assess the impact this positioning and PR had on candidates and nominees.
We are a society of pop culture and instant downloads where information is accessed at astonishing rates. News an hour ago is not news anymore and we are constantly searching for updates.
President-elect Barack Obama is an incredibly charismatic individual and plays well into this culture. Here is my thinking: I don’t think that policy and issue play as large a role as it should have and did in previous presidential elections. Although unfortunate, I feel image is a larger determining factor for the voting population.
Using these ideas, media relations and market positioning are just a couple of ways to build a fan base that can promote a candidates influence in multiple venues. Examples of this type of social marketing would include viral videos on YouTube, vlogs, internet forums, podcasts, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr, just to name a few. Videos seen on YouTube of campaign rallies were free PR on a national scale. In fact on his home website, there is a link to “Obama Everywhere”, which lists all the above and a handful more of places where you can learn and discuss Obama. His campaign took advantage of this social market positioning and used it in their strategic plan for success. He reached out to the numerous constituents and gained their attention and respect by understanding that technology is continuous and evolving.
It was in this sense that Obama was able to fundraise from micro donors (and in return allowed him to disclaim lobbyist influences in government). Furthermore, according to a CNN.com exit poll, 66% of all 18-29 year-olds and 52% of 30-44 year-olds voted for Obama. These are the same typical demographics that are familiar with and use social media as both an outlet for discussion and information seeking; the so-called “internet generation”.
The reason this is relevant in politics today is because you will not find a single candidate out there who does not have a website and/or numerous spin off sites. For example, Obama teamed up with Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes to create My.BarackObama.com, in which users could join an online community that boasted over a million members. Using these high tech venues one can find local events, contact undecided voters near you, and share stories via blogs. The thinking is this: candidates, especially at the presidential level, can be, and oftentimes are, impersonal. My.BarackObama.com removes that a little bit and makes him and his campaign feel more about you.
Obama positioned himself as a beacon for change. He spoke with an intelligence that articulated respect. He symbolized a new beginning or at the very least a fresh start from the turmoil of the last 8 years. Obama had a strong grasp of the power public relations and high tech devices to campaign in new ways. From my viewpoint, someone who understands the way people think and seems to have a direction definitely gets my vote.

Christian

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