Social media may be one of the secrets to Obama's victory
17 November 2012

Social media may be one of the secrets to Obama's victory

The Obama Campaign's social media strategy created a groundswell of empowered volunteers who felt they could make a difference.

In early 2007, Barack Obama was a fairly unknown senator running for president against a Democratic nominee with the household name of Hilary Clinton. On November 4, 2008, Obama was the first African American to win the election against Republican candidate, John McCain, becoming the 44th president of the United States.

Many analysts believe that the major factor behind Obama’s success was how the Obama campaign deployed social media as an integral part of its strategy.

The Obama Campaign's social media strategy created a groundswell of empowered volunteers who felt they could make a difference. For example, Facebook users tend to be connected with other Facebook users who share similar opinions and political beliefs because Facebook users tend to un-friend people that diverge significantly from their beliefs. This created super-concentrated social networking hubs where other Obama supporters associate closely with other Obama supporters, repelling supporters of other candidates in the process.

The Obama Campaign's social networking techniques extended to e-mail advocacy, text messaging, and online video. The most important factor in Obama's social media campaign’s success was their ability to convert all the social media communication into online advocacy for Obama.

  • Obama's campaign gained 5 million supporters from social networks
  • By November 2008, Obama had approximately 2.5 million Facebook supporters, outperforming McCain by nearly four times
  • Obama had over 115,000 followers on Twitter, more than 23 times those of McCain
  • Fifty million viewers spent 14 million hours watching campaign-related videos on YouTube, four times McCain’s viewers
  • Obama's campaign sent out 1 billion e-mails, including 10,000 unique messages targeted at specific segments of their 13-million member list
  • Obama's campaign had gained 3 million mobile and SMS subscribers
  • On Election Day, supporters received three texts

Obama didn't just rely on Facebook and existing social network channels. The campaign created their own channel, www.my.barackobama.com (MyBO). MyBO allowed individuals to connect to one another supporters and activate themselves on behalf of the campaign.

  • Two million profiles were created
  • Registered users and volunteers planned over 200,000 offline events
  • Registered users and volunteers wrote 400,000 blog posts
  • Registered users and volunteers created 35,000 volunteer groups
  • Obama raised $639 million (USD) from 3 million donors, mostly through the Internet
  • Volunteers on MyBO generated $30 million (USD) on 70,000 personal fundraising pages
  • Donors made 6.5 million donations online, totalling over $500 million (USD)
  • The average donor gave more than once

It is clear that Obama used social media tools more effectively than other candidates to communicate, organize, and raise money. Social media also extended Obama's grassroots strategy to capture the hearts of the voters.

Social media may be one of the secrets to Obama's victory. The Obama campaign has left a legacy of being one of the most effective Internet marketing plans in history.