Obama : digital influencer of the year

by Laurent François

Matt Jones is definitely right about the new era that we’ve just entered :

“There’s simply no one working in politics, communications, marketing, brand, business, or
anywhere else who can’t draw lessons from what Obama and his camapign team have achieved.”

Obama’s victory, out of the proper political content, is also a big learning for marketing, PR or more generally communication strategists.
Seth Godin mentions at least 3 points that the 44th US President implemented right here. To sum up :

  • stories are the keys : no matter how good your product is, it’s all about how people think and talk about it. To make your product, cause or politics get into people’s conversations, you have to tell great stories, with true content
  • it’s not about pushing massively a message ; it’s about creating a personalized sustainable relationship between your product and your audience. And guess what ? Audience not only listens but also wants to react and engage a discussion with you
  • affinity networks matter : instead of trying to convince the more anti-you, you probably have to slide softly to more indirect allies, and find a natural “hub” of conversation with them “The idea was that independents and some Democrats, together with the traditional pre-Reagan core of the Republican party, would weave together a new centrist base. Barack Obama also had a challenge. He knew that the traditional base for Democratic candidates wouldn’t be sufficient to get him elected (it had failed John Kerry). So he too set out to weave a new tribe, a tribe that included progressives, the center, younger religious voters, weary veterans, internationalists, Nobel prize winners, black voters and others.”

Other key-learnings :

  • online and offline were perfectly balanced : Obama’s social media strategy was strong enough to follow the grassroots activists all over the US, but flexible enough to let them organize their events at the local level. There was a wide diversity of engagement degrees : “This new approach is based on the idea that even if a supporter does not have time to knock on the doors or money to contribute, he or she may still want to give a few moments of their time to help the candidate in other ways. One of such ways mentioned is to give a vote on Digg to a story favorable to Obama or negative to John McCain.”
  • the communication was oriented to solve people’s daily and near problems. Politics at the grassroots level did not mean this time politics at the low level. For example, this landing page was an attempt to solve the question “what if I don’t go voting ?”, and instead of developing moral argument, it presented a very concrete demonstration of what it’d be like

So what’s the future of social media for Obama’s mandate ?
A beginning of answere thanks to Matt Rhodes : “Whatever happens tonight and whoever wins the election, it is likely that it will be a difficult few years; involving and engaging those who have been such strong supporters to now will continue to be a priority.”

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