Posts Tagged barack obama

My thoughts on Millennial Makeover

In Millennial Makeover, Winograd and Hais depict a true idealogical realignment.  As with the five major realignments they outline, this one stems from a big moment in history— 9/11, but only in conjunction with the technological developments that both complicate and simplify life for our generation.

Being a millennial myself, I thought it was a great read.  I agree that our generation seems more group oriented and also more focused on social impact than previous generations— but then again, maybe everyone is at this young age, before they get jaded.  I found it interesting that Winograd and Hais specifically tied these attributes to the democratic party, and the 2008 election certainly demonstrated that as young people connected to the campaign via social media and voted in droves to elect President Obama.

Like many of our readings this semester, the book emphasizes the importance of utilizing emerging technologies like social media in order to reach millennials.  As the generation most likely to embrace technology, innovative thinking and strategy is critical in order to win us over.  As campaigning, fundraising, and lobbying strategies have already been changed drastically by the ways of the millennials— is realignment the next step?  The authors sure think so.

After this month’s recent Planned Parenthood nonsense, I look forward to the future, which the authors identify as a time when “the power of social issues to drive our political debate will wane” because the electorate will be much more socially tolerant and accepting as a whole.

Of course, the book came out before the 2008 election— and it predicted correctly that the Dems would win, with Obama as their pick.  As millennials continue to vote and mature as candidates and participants of the political arena, their reach will only expand (the book points out that we’ll make up a large share of the electorate by 2016), and if the consensus effect continues to play a role in decision making, its likely that many will be on the same political page.  As a fairly liberal democrat, I would be very interested to hear what someone of the opposite perspective would think of this book— I think I’ll pass it along to my brother to see how his interpretations differ!

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President Obama’s Facebook Town Hall

Today, President Obama hosted his first-ever Facebook Town Hall.  Hosted on the White House Facebook page, Obama discussed the economy, recovery funds, and answered questions that people submitted directly to the Facebook wall as well as to Whitehouse.gov.

Over 25,000 people RSVPed for the event.  Today, the Facebook page goes directly to the Townhall tab.  Interestingly, the page has nearly one million fans.  I wonder how many would have RSVPed if the page had invited all of its fans?

Obama recently announced his 2012 election campaign, which is already using YouTube, targeted texts, and a Facebook app called “Are you in?”.

I was quite glad to hear that President Obama would continue to innovate and find ways to communicate with new audiences.  Even though many still think of Facebook as a site for young people, the numbers say that the average age of a Facebook user is age 38, and then the even-older demographic is the fastest growing group.

This is not the first time that Facebook and the White House have joined together to make a splash.   Last month, they promoted a PSA about the importance of fighting cyberbullying on exclusively Facebook in order to raise awareness of the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.

Now that social media is so clearly essential to campaigning (especially versus Obama), I am quite interested to see how his competitors will use it.  I think that if they don’t integrate digital into each and every piece of their campaign, they will find it difficult to compete with a group who has it ingrained into its strategy.

If you’re especially interested in the topic, I would suggested this Wall Street Journal article: Facebook Seeking Friends in Beltway.

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Obama + New Media = #WINNING

Colin Delany’s Learning From Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 & Beyond is a great insider’s look at the success stories that came out of the Obama campaign.

The following tools are identified as key elements to the success of the online component of his campaign:

  • Website
  • Email
  • MyBarackObama.com
  • Multichannel Online Outreach (i.e., YouTube, Facebook, Google Ads)
  • Grassroots Outreach/Data Collection
  • Text Messaging/Cell Phones

Personally, I am most interested to see how to mobile component of campaigning will continue to evolve.  As more and more Americans get smart phones, whether they be personal or for work, a whole new realm of communication opens up.  People normally have their phones at all times, so if urgent access is necessary, that’s likely the best way to reach them.  The fact that the Obama campaign had a list of roughly 1 million cell phone users is mindblowing— and I believe that those who can reach smart phone users in a creative way will continue to see success (this goes not just for politicians, but for organizations and brands as well).

It’s important to remember what Delany states on pg 11, that “plenty of people not named Barack Obama and not boosted by a vibrant and extensive network of active supporters also won on November 4th.”  Despite the fact that going online and “viral” are now recognized as of the utmost importance, that online works when they complement a solid offline campaign.  Delany points out that, “Even for online “movements” at the presidential level, the overall results are mixed: Obama may have won, but Dean didn’t in 2004 — and neither did Ron Paul in 2008.”

I loved reading about the structure  of the team, which was “separate and equal, but also integrated.”  I definitely think this was part of what led to success- not just the individuals, but how they worked as a team and within a larger structure played into it.  Also, the emphasis on online/offline integration really spoke to me.  This morning, I attended an event where a hashtag was prominently posted throughout the room.  Because those who were tweeting were aware of the hashtag, they were able to connect online and expand the conversation.  If the hashtag had not been posted, the tweets would not be connected and not be quite as valuable.

At the end of the day, for politicians, real-life supporters mean more than Twitter pundits who aren’t even constituents.  But when those Twitter pundits have the reach to influence constituents— that’s when the magic happens.

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Online and offline integration: there is no baseline

In a world where “there is no baseline,” Year One of Organizing for America tries to provide an aerial view of the activities of the group that formed out of the coalition that mobilized and elected President Obama.

The group is so large that it more or less embodies everything that a campaign can— in both the online and offline realms.  Offline, activities range from petition drives to local events and meetings, and online, activities include the extensive email list and dedicated community-building.  Communications with policy makers are encouraged both online and offline.

For the Obama campaign, digital media interaction actually did cause behavior in real life— the ultimate end-goal for most campaigns whether they aim to sell a product, encourage someone to quit smoking, watch a television show, or support an idea.  New media actual drove political action, like fundraising, event attendance, voter registration, and, ultimately, votes!  An effort as large is this is great because it shows the importance of tailored efforts.  For example, activities around health care were scaled back or increased depending on political action.

Despite the fact that it is an integral part of my job, I had never really stepped back to consider the importance of online and offline campaign integration.  The importance of this cannot be overstressed— not just for political campaigns, either.  It’s proven that the more times people see a message, the more likely they are to absorb it, and the more places a message lives, the more likely people are to see it more than once.  For example, Old Spice’s new advertising campaign is prevalent not only on YouTube, but on television, and I’ve also seen numerous Tweets and a few Facebook posts about it.

This concept was stressed at work this week as well— my employers’ Ogilvy Notes initiative gained much favorable coverage, including from Mashable, proving that sometimes the perfect compliment to something highly digital is something that’s about as old-fashioned as it gets.

In that light, Mobilizing Generation 2.0 was a very interesting compliment to the Organizing for America case study.  While there were some things I did not agree with (e.g., that young adults respond to traditional outreach such as phone calls at the same rates as older adults), on the whole it was a fantastic look at the lives of the newest voters— of which I am a part.  I could definitely relate to many parts of the book, seeing as I am among those who do not have a digital component to their lives, instead, digital is integrated into all of the things that I do.

The overarching theme of the book is that while new platforms are great ways to reach audiences, what’s crucial is the relationship building that these platforms allow, and thus participation in social networks requires research and strategies.  Knowing your audience is key— if you don’t know how they use a platform, how will you know how to reach them?  That’s where this book comes in handy— though it’s a bit out of date, it’s a great learning manual from Rock the Vote— an organization fully intrenched in the subject matter.

The book identifies Millennials as being politically involved, civically active, tech savvy, and influential— making them a group any organization would be remiss not to target.  What the book boils down to is: how can we activate this group ONLINE to mobilize them OFFLINE?  Through blogs, social networks, mobile phones, wikis, maps, and video and photo sharing: that’s how.

A few best practices from the book: authenticity is key — communicate like a person, not like a computer.  Know your audience and your influencers — influencers have their pulse on the audience, and have a wide, authentic reach. By reinforcing offline action with online support, Millennials can be driven to take action and can define a campaign.

Although there is no baseline— one thing is key.  Online relationships that can transition to offline interactions are extremely valuable, and learning to develop those types of relationships is key for the future of politicians, organizations, and corporations.

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