Courtesy of The Duran
“Yes we can! Yes we can!” went the deafening din in Grant Park, Chicago as history was made yesterday. America and the world is now celebrating the decisive win of Democrat Barack Hussein Obama over Republican John McCain in the 2008 US elections.
Was Obama’s win a Web 2.0 Windfall? Or did he also depend on other more traditional means of getting the word out?
For sure, Obama employed social media to the hilt when he triumphed over both the Democratic Primaries and the main Elections itself. His associates deployed a staggering array of new media tools and channels to get the message out to anybody who was online in the US.
The Obama campaign also appeared in practically all online advertising platforms that were relevant, like Google ads, online banners, and so on.
I suppose one of his biggest coup was to get the guru of the online world, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt to endorse him.
Barack Obama even developed a cool iPhone application (kudos to Kevin for pointing this out) to encourage folks to vote for him and pass the message on. That’s not all. He even advertised on video games to reach the youths!
Friends, this guy knew all about Word Of Mouth marketing and buzz marketing on the Internet!
Was Barack Hussein Obama the world’s first and truly Internet president?
Well, let us look at the other facts which tipped the balance in his favour.
First, we need to know that his background and story alone provided substantial fuel for both mainstream and new media sensationalism.
Mr Obama was the first black candidate (technically, he is actually half black and half white, which sort of made his story even stronger) to gain such a major advantage in history.
He was also a junior senator who completed his first term, and came from an unconventional background of academic and community activism brilliance. Unlike the other candidates, Obama did not come from a corporate background.
Next, you need to know that Obama also employed a lot of advertising in mainstream media.
This included his historic 30 minute Super Bowl television commercial (seen below).
Beyond that, banners, posters, newspaper advertisements, leaflets, magazine advertisements, radio advertisements and the full works were employed during his campaign.
Obama also hired a truckload of publicists to garner mainstream media coverage. This was evident in the positive coverage which he garnered over numerous newspapers, broadcast channels, cable TV, radio, magazines and others.
Of course, we had little doubt that his strong charismatic presence, amazing speech making ability, and immense relationship skills helped him to secure the POTUS seat. The world hasn’t seen such power and persuasion in election speeches for a long time.
The man also embodied the traits of what many in America – and around the world – have always rooted for. Fairness, equality, can-do spirit, resilience, magnanimity, and a love for humanity.
The fact that John Kerry failed to win against an even more traditional and less tech-savvy president George W Bush was another thing altogether.
Does that mean that social media alone wasn’t quite what its hyped up to be?
Well it certainly did help. Without the barrage of social media tools and channels at his disposal, Barack Obama was unlikely to gain the phenomenal traction that he did during his presidential campaign.
However, just depending on social media alone wasn’t enough. You needed to get your fundamentals right.
In this game, Obama had an entire election strategy mapped out. This stood him in good ground over all 21 months of it.
Social media certainly helped in generating word of mouth, buzz and positive network effects. However, you still need to be rooted in more traditional disciplines like marketing strategy, business acumen, PR savvy, and plain old emotional intelligence (EQ) to get there.
In short, Barack Obama wasn’t just a social media phenomenon. He was a total phenomenon.
Update: Siva just informed me that Obama also had armies of folks doing cold calls, visits and other related activities too.
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