Social Media Marketing: The Marketing Skills you can learn from Obama 12

I was fascinated by the analysis of the Obama campaign. In many ways, Obama’s campaign and its success is a big, bright, “LCD sign” of the times. New media has come of age in a very public way.

Most people seem to agree that the campaign used a number of techniques to capture an audience and even inspire those traditionally lacking enthusiasm for politics. Some of my favorite attributes are:

Audacity – the fact that Obama wasn’t afraid to “redefine his target audience” and go after states like Indiana who this November voted for a Democrat for the first time in 44 years.

Mobilizing Large Numbers and doing it “Grass Roots” – unprecedented fundraising success by generating large numbers of small donations rather than small numbers of large donations to raise more than an estimated $600 million (McCain raised an estimated $250 million).

The Message Consistency – the message never wavered from the idea of being an “antidote” to the status quo.

But perhaps the most obvious and (to a techie like me) inspiring elements of witnessing this campaign was its focus on social technology to support and propel all of the other techniques.

The use of “new media”, from friend building on Friendster to the seemingly simple text message, proved to be a powerhouse for the campaign, as it extended the concept of “Team Obama” far beyond campaign headquarters literally into the hands of millions of Americans who voted and vocalized with their typing fingers.

For all the small business owners who couldn’t help wondering, wow – can I do that? My answer is Yes you can! (Sorry couldn’t help myself).

In taking a closer look, the technologies used form a rather familiar list:

  • Official Web site: and
  • Text messaging strategy – enabled via collecting phone numbers on a mass scale
  • LinkedIn:
  • Flickr:
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter:
  • YouTube:

The list reads like a “who’s who” of social media marketing.

But the real power in these technologies is understanding that the goal is not just to “set up” one tool or another, but to understand each tool’s potential. That potential in the Obama campaign was brought to fruition by:

  • Having a consistent message
  • Providing free and open access to “making a connection”
  • *Always* keeping the tool up to date
  • Providing pertinent digestible bytes of information that could be read, downloaded, passed on
  • Leveraging the sheer quantity of enthusiasts and supporters on each tool to disperse messages almost instantly across an unbelievably wide, new network of venues and communities that hasn’t been seen since the invention of television.

Think about the leverage that a database of 948,000 people on MySpace and 3.1 million people on Facebook provides when you have a message to communicate (and consider that vs. McCain’s 221,000 on MySpace and 600,000 on Facebook).

As you think about your business and consider the challenge to build brand, generate buzz and stay on the radar as a small business owner with limited time and a limited budget, there are some very simple lessons to learn here:

  1. Everybody needs a team. Whether you’re trying to build a team of millions of voters or a few thousand supporters of your business, build a team by building a venue for them to get involved. Even the simplest involvement can be powerful.
  2. Email, the Web, and cellular technology have created an unprecedented venue for that involvement. Know who should be on your team and know the different ways they like to be involved.
  3. Use wisely. Learn how these technologies work and learn by example how they can be leveraged to build a community of supporters for you.

This is an advantage that won’t last forever. As businesses gain competency in these techniques and learn to invest wisely, these techniques will slowly become standards rather than competitive advantages.

But it is possible for a growing small business to build a strategic, cost-effective and impactful social media campaign. As “Team Obama” has shown – yes, you can.

Maisha Walker is the Founder & President of message medium, a 10-year old New York City Internet Strategy firm that focuses exclusively on Small Businesses.  You can follow Maisha on Twitter or learn about her upcoming Web site and Internet Marketing Classes.

About the Author Maisha Walker Founder & President, message medium About the author: Maisha is the Founder & President of message medium, a 10-year old New York City Internet Strategy firm that uses Web site development, Internet marketing and hands on training to help small businesses boost traffic and win customers. Maisha is a sought after author,… Read more »

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  • Seh

    I definitely saw the power of social media from the Obama campaign. My specialty is online video, but I’ve found combining the power of video and social media can be highly effective. I get the most traffic from posting video to because they target keywords specific to businesses and guides traffic back to my sites. Plus they’re Free…

  • Bruce

    This is a great article. Obama definitely had a plan for getting his message out to the passes and I would say that his use of social media was one of the factors contributing to him getting elected. He was targeting younger voters and these media outlets where something that helped push his message otu to his targeted audience. Used the correct way Social media can really help with getting your message out to the masses.

  • Haisela Dorsey

    I would like open a on-line business selling High end cell phones and other high end technologies do you have any suggestion. what type of website should I use and etc.

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  • Maisha Walker “The Internet Strategist”

    Hi Seh – Adwido sounds interesting. I’d be interesting in seeing what you’ve done with it post some links for us!

  • Maisha Walker “The Internet Strategist”

    Hi Bruce – I agree — I think what really impressed/inspired people was not only their use of it but just how incredibly well organized, comprehensive and fully integrated the approach was. Really a stellar example. Have you found ways to use it for your business?

  • Maisha Walker “The Internet Strategist”

    Hello Haisela – you need an eCommerce site that will accept credit card payments online. I would start by looking at some of your competitors and see what they’re using!

  • http://wwwashokfarma dr ak sharma

    i m a senior veterinarian in industry world wide exprience But i am not able to run my own business /pl guide

  • Online Business Ideas

    Nether thought that Obama is a good online business strategist. Thank you for the great article.

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  • Make Money from Home

    Great article. Learn from the best!

  • Copper Jewelry Store

    I’ve tried using social media for a long time to promote my business, but found it to be a lot slower for me than most successful people state. I never get the booms but rather slowly over time have gained a lot of SEO power from the many social media outlets I’ve used… guess I’ll take what I can get but it would be nice to get an occasional boom as well!

    • Lori

      The power of social media site is now a hit.
      Your data and your customer information is encrypted and stored in a state of the art facility with regular backup.
      Unlimited number of invoices you can create and send
      And that’s only a few of its features. But the very best thing about it is that it’s FREE.

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  • Matt West

    Obama has used social media in ways that has transformed the marketing communications landscape. I review this and the ways in which social media and sustainability are aligned.

    As a consultant, I see the value of providing an online experience. Social media is a great example of an interactive digital medium with real power, provided you know how to use it. For the average small business, effectively navigating social media is largely about understanding Generation Y. Please see my review of Millennials and social media.