November 4, 2008 was a historic day. A monumental day. The significance of this day will be chronicled in journals and books. It will be discussed and analyzed by pundits from sea to shining sea.
This was the day that marketers and digital strategists all around the world drew a big sigh of relief and said in one collective breath – "I think social media advertising actually works!"
Oh, and we have a new President, too.
In the 1920s, the radio revolutionized campaigning. In the 1950's short TV spots changed the way candidates advertised on TV. And in 2008, we're seeing the coming of age of social media.
Regardless of whom you supported, you had a voice. And you used it to support your candidate on Facebook and MySpace, and Twitter at rallies and MeetUp with strangers with a common purpose.
Even the candidates got involved, each with their own place on the social media map. The following table highlights the types of social media used by the early candidates.
Because recruiting for voters and recruiting for employees have some direct similarities, we can learn a lot from the Obama social media campaign.
It's no coincidence that candidates used social media to propel their campaigns. It's clearly a sign of the times. And, due (in part) to his social media focused campaign, AdAge voted Barack Obama as their 2008 Marketer of the Year (AdAge, October 2008).
With over 3.1 million friends on FaceBook and 908,372 on MySpace, Obama supporters were no longer anonymous, they had a profile and a face and a voice. However, unlike other candidates who stopped at FaceBook and MySpace, Obama also built his brand on diversity networks like MiGente, Black Planet, Asian Ave, and EONS among others.
If you were one of the 2.9 million who received an SMS alert announcing Obama's VP pick in August, congratulations – you helped set a record for the largest mobile campaign in the U.S. (Nielsen Mobile, August 2008). His mobile campaign also had ringtones, wallpapers, and text message alerts.
Here are a few of the things Obama did successfully that employers should keep in mind when considering a social media strategy:
- Diversify your social networks — don't forget the niche groups
- Mobile marketing works when you have a good story to tell
- Let your audience participate in the discussion
You may be interested to see whether Obama keeps his social media presence once he's sworn into office — I will be watching to see if and how he uses social media moving forward (which brings me to a point number 4).
- eep content relevant and current
During the election, Obama's team consistently updated content, and as a result, voters were informed and able to follow new developments. If Obama stays with this approach during his term, it will cement social media as a critical way to stay connected with constituents.
So, please remember this election and understand where your company fits in the social media mix. If your brand is strong, your fans will follow it. If you have a story to tell, give your audience the ability to contribute to it. This is the power of social.
If you do it right, social media advertising actually works.