Posts Tagged mobile

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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Activism in a Mobile World

Why go mobile?  Michael Stein, Katrin Varcias, and Katie Harbath outline several compelling reasons:

  • Speed: people likely have their phones on them almost all the time
  • Widespread use: in some developing countries, more people use mobile phones than have internet access
  • Young people: are early adopters and enthusiastic
  • Targeting: campaigns can be targeted to specific venues/events
  • Varied content: mobile phones allow for convergence with other media like email, images, videos, and sound

What’s most important to Harbath is that people remember that mobile is much, much more than text messaging.  And while text messaging campaigns have been highly successful (Like Greenpeace Argentina’s “Zero Waste” campaign and the SEIU International Justice Campaign), she stresses that people’s view of mobile needs to include mobile browsing and app use.  In her view, “2012 could very well be the year of mobile for political campaigns.”

Stein and Varcias offer several best practices for mobile campaigns:

  1. Understand your audience: this is true for all communications
  2. Work with a mobile vendor: it makes life easier, period.
  3. Plan your mobile strategy earlier: so that it can connect with larger campaign strategy
  4. Have a clear call to action: mobilize your supporters!
  5. Identify your needs: so that you can evaluate success
  6. Get creative: the realm is changing quickly, so change with it
  7. Gather as much data as possible: metrics are crucial
  8. Share your data: so that others may learn from your experience.

Harbath shares several interesting tidbits in her Tech President blog post.  For example, “voting locations” was the best performing search term for mobile searches, which increased drastically on Election Day.  Click through rates increased on that day as well.  Another interesting trend prediction is QR codes on pieces of direct mail— as this becomes more and more prevalent (some USA TODAY stories now feature them), I would certainly expect this.  Additionally, she predicts “Apple genius-like people” roaming throughout large events to gather email addresses or take donations with smartphones— iPads can only improve the functionality of this idea.  And seeing how mobile advocacy ties into geolocation tools will be interesting in future elections on the local level.

Overall, I think Harbath, Stein, and Varcias’ experience speaks to the sometimes-overlooked value of mobile.  As Harbath points out, mobile is just one piece to a digital strategy, which should also include social media, email, video, online advertising, and website strategy.  As mobile continues to be a useful fundraising tool,  I predict that it will become more and more prevalent in campaigns.

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