The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

President of the Intertubes.

Posted by Rod Leland on November 7, 2008

“Undoubtedly Obama’s rise to the presidency will be studied for years to come as the textbook example of a new kind of electioneering driven by people and technology” -Ralph Benko, principal of the political consulting firm Capital City Partners, in Washington, D.C.

picture-7
Barack Obama is now officially the president-elect of the United States, and it’s certainly no accident. Obama drew the largest voter turnout in a century.  He managed to awaken voter demographics that were dormant for many, many terms. Yes, he’s a great speaker, yes his platform is solid, and yes he’s riding the wake of a 20% approval rating for the current republican president. But what really won him the election?  The Internet and social media tools.

It’s no coincidence that Obama’s team at campaign headquarters is packed full of ambitious 20-somethings.  These same 20-somethings understood that this election is completely different because for the first time the Internet was massively, fundamentally, important.

So, Obama has a great website. It’s easy to read and navigate with a standards-compliant, clean, functional design.  However, every candidate has a website nowadays.  Where the real differences start to come is in Obama’s use of the free online social media tools like YouTube and Twitter, Barack’s use of different communication methods for different demographics, and probably most importantly, the creation of his OWN SOCIAL NETWORK.

Let’s start with the free online social media tools.  Barack leveraged all the major pre-existing Internet staples and built huge followings within each. The important metrics (at election time):

125 THOUSAND Twitter Followers (the most of all twitter users, ever)
100 MILLION Youtube Views,
865 THOUSAND Myspace Friends,
and 2.6 MILLION Facebook supporters.

It should also be noted that Obama’s Youtube channel has close to 2000 videos and in the final days of the election new videos were being released at a rate of roughly one an hour.

I think those numbers speak for themselves.

These are tools a vast majority of us already use and love.  When we can show support for, and interact with our presidential candidate, it helps immensely to build personal brand.  It’s certainly very cool to “be friends” with Obama on MySpace or receive a Tweet from Obama thanking YOU for helping to elect him.  This is why building personal brand becomes so important to help with Obama’s message.  He wants to drive home the point that every single voter matters, and the use of social media re-enforces this.  These relatively simple, passive tools that can (and most likely are) run by members of Obama’s team help personally connect voters to their candidate.

Barack and his team also used individual communication methods to contact different demographics.  For the younger voters, text messages were the weapon of choice.  Appropriately, for the older demo, clearly-worded, short, concise emails were sent out.  The personalization of campaigning helped Obama reach each generation in the best way.  In past elections, a TV spot goes out to everyone watching TV, and it’s much tougher to customize your message for a specific set of people.

picture-8On to Obama’s own Social Network.  My.BarackObama.com launched in the middle of February and by the end of his campaign had 1.5 Million accounts.  The social network launched pretty much without bugs and feature-complete showing again, that Obama’s team was CRUSHING the web aspect of his campaign and know the do’s and don’ts.  Through this social network, Obama’s followers arranged their own rallies, meetups, and contributed a vast amount of money that helped fuel Obama’s campaign.

In another show of web prowess, just a single day after being named president-elect, Obama launched the Obama-Biden Transition Project (as the organization is legally known) under the domain Change.gov.  Obama and his team know that keeping their followers in the loop via the web is not optional anymore, and this new project is a perfect example of the fact that Obama is committed to pursuing this view not just in his campaign, but in his presidency as well.

(Props to Techpresident for the killer metrics.)

-Rod

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