“Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand. He is new, different, and attractive. That's as good as it gets.”[Keith Reinhard chairman DDB Worldwide]
I like that quote because too many businesses still spend time and effort ending up in a "me too" position, when they could really decide to become themselves instead of a copy of something else.
Today marks the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. If you'd like to follow the events, they will be chronicled here, a move that meets the type of expectation the brand called Obama created with experience. Politics is not a spectator sport, and now people have more and easier ways to get involved.
Citizens have the opportunity to participate and potentially help design a new conversation at the political level, something that has not been possible for years. Social media has allowed people to go back to building communities on a much larger scale, making the world smaller in the process for many. Not all, however. Programs like teaching children how to read in analog mode and one laptop per child in digital mode can change that. Our analog lives meet digital solutions more often these days.
Much has been already written about how Obama crushed the social media and texting worlds during his campaign. Steve Rubel summarized the points made in a recent book about business lessons from the Obama campaign. Read these points several times, especially if your team may be affected by multiple message syndrome, lack of focus, and lack of leadership:
Be Cool means zeroing in problems, developing practical solutions, all while remaining unflappable and undistracted. It explains how the Obama team always focused on its core goal.
Be Social is the part that will interest many of you. It covers how Team Obama cultivated a grassroots following, built MyBarackObama.com into a powerhouse, created outposts in every major social network, leveraged mobile marketing and turned CRM into what they call CMR (customer managed relationships).
Be the Change was easy for Obama. That was his entire platform. But the book explains what this means for businesses - creating a vision and taking on tough issues, both your own challenges and the globe's, in a forthright, authentic way. It also means creating an internal environment that supports multiple points of view, which Obama does well.
The slide deck above is by the talented Rahaf Harfoush - I share her passion for learning, developing, testing, and executing ideas, thinking in terms of possibility, and surrounding myself with interested people. Are these some of the essential qualities of a marketer 2.0?
By the Numbers
[from Edelman Report]
Marketing is the management process responsible for matching resources with opportunities, at a proﬁt - by identifying, inﬂuencing and satisfying customer demand. Relevance is the success metric. The one increasingly vital part of such discipline is the ability to connect the dots between data points captured from various sources.
Jeremiah Owyang published a breakdown the day before the election and noted that Obama had by far more supporters, subscribers, followers and viewers than McCain. Olivier Blanchard took a look at the numbers as well and asked: has social media started to change the game?
There is in fact a correlation between online activity and final results. We know that Obama won. This data has potential implications for businesses. Consider that there were direct and indirect influence factors at play here. A citizen who has a way to become more involved with the process, will more likely spread the word.
Josh Bernoff took a look at the social profile of political candidates and analyzes the results. I see one of the comments to that post highlights the age divide.
Tom Peters said it recently, geezers (his term) are online, too. In terms of conversions, which is a very valid question, I think it still depends on the product or service you offer. Obama presented a consistent message coming from a candidate that was everything but "me too" in his behavior.
Blue State Digital (BSD) wrote a case study to document its success for Obama's fund raising activities. To date, the campaign has used the BSD Online Tools to mobilize well over a million donors to contribute over $500 million online, to motivate over 2 million social networking participants, and to create and promote more than 200,000 events across the country.
In brief: the lead was becoming clear in the numbers because there was opportunity to measure many different things - page views, followers, number of active supporters, fund raising activities, etc.
Lesson: in order to tie the numbers to results, you need to set a clear strategy of what you want people to do (not unlike any other form of marketing) and employ many different metrics to analyze.
Aaron Perry-Zucker and Adam Myer created the fantastic site where you can see the aggregated results of the work that supporters in the design community have offered to the campaign. A note to those of you who are in the market for a new career opportunity - this is resume building stuff, folks. The site was inspired and is supported by Design Observer.
Shepard Farley designed the now iconic poster. Steven Heller at the New York Times campaign stops blog explained why the poster had such a wide appeal: since these artists’ designs have not gone through the routine vetting process, the image is unfettered by a canon and commands attention because of its freshness.
In brief: as many note in the comments, this denotes connection and a belief that there will be change on the horizon.
Lesson: it's not about the medium, it's about the product - in this case the message was part of the product. What can you do to signal it's not business as usual?
[image of personal annual report by Dopplr]
This is where it gets very interesting. All of the online activities generated many stories, regardless of where you were or chose to be during the campaign, you had a voice. Social media was orchestrated to integrate with traditional media and campaign activities. Many media - one story. Yet it adapted to the medium so that everyone felt they were invited to the conversation.
Some tactics even included games. According to AdAge “an Xbox Live gamer, Dragunov765, posted screenshots while playing EA's race game "Burnout Paradise." The screenshots feature a Barack Obama billboard that says early voting has begun and references voteforchange.com, a site paid for by Obama for America, which points voters to early voting locations in states where the practice is permitted.”
Everything was choreographed to provide one narrative. The most important part was the content, the story itself. It was constantly refreshed. Obama had a story to tell and allowed his supporters to contribute to it.
In brief: consider different social networks and use of mobile to be where your audience is and engage.
Lesson: keeping people engaged means recognizing their enthusiasm and support. This should be an ongoing effort, however, and not just a one time thing. Once you open the door to your house, in this case the White House, there is no going back.
Funded Execution Matters
I'm with David Bullock as he writes on the site he co-created with Brent Leary - Personally, I have learned more about marketing within the last 18 months than I have in the last 10 years. Experiencing the power of a well executed multi-channel campaign can change the way that you approach the promotion of your business.
Execution matters, but in order to create a multi-channel campaign like the one we have skimmed the surface on here today, you need to have appropriate funding. There are way too many CMO's who think we can do more with less. That ends up being less of more without the appropriate funding.
People also matter. Whether they be on the resource side or the conversation side, you have people - employees, customers, partners, and their friends and families.
I'm just skimming the surface here and there are probably more resources and analysis out there. If you add it in the comments, I will add it to the post.
This is what I (mainly) learned from Obama's social media campaign. What lessons have you taken back to your business?