Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's use of the Internet for electioneering

Wow! What an amazing presidential race. As a supporter and a big fan of the Obama campaign machine I have been in awe of the online strategies deployed and used by the Obama campaign team in leveraging the Internet in spreading their message of hope of "Yes we can". I have been in receipt of their numerous e-mails which have had a clear call to action during the campaign season. The call to action was to either donate funds or volunter your efforts in the Obama campaign process. After getting their message you were either compelled to donate to their campaign or pick up the phone and rally potential supporters.

Obama is the 44th President and owes much of his success to his campaign team's use of the Internet as a fundraising and organization tool. Having garnered almost 53% of the popular vote and almost won the electoral votes 2:1 against the GOP. The use to organize thousands of phone-banking events and raised a record $ 700 million in contributions from more than 3 million people, a majority of whom donated through the web is a true testament of how disciplined and focused they were in executing their online strategy. In fundraising the Obama campaign solicited for small donations of $10 and $20 and ended up raising record donations and then using the funds for traditional television advertising. For example It is estimated their campaign spent about $ 300 million on television compared to Mcain's 120 million during the campaign season. This is definitely a model that will be studied in business schools for years to come.

Credit for their Online efforts can be attributed to Joe Rospars and Chris Hughes. The former is a veteran of Howard Dean's online campaign efforts in 2004 and the latter is a co-founder of Facebook currently the hottest social media site. The Obama campaign used their site as an access point to foster collaboration for millions of ordinary Americans in involving them in the political process by asking them to volunteer their time or donate funds by working around their schedules. The social networking tool also appealed to the younger voters as they used texts to reach the Generation Y demographic. When the McCain campaign got negative and ugly through the use of robot phone calls this same media was used as a rallying point to counter the false propaganda about Obama's political campaign.

Obama's campaign was the story of his supporters and this was manifested by the viral effects of his campaign on thousands of websites and who can forget the youtube videos that sprung up that helped bring a fun spin to his campaign. Their campaign strategy was fresh and they kept being innovative by using new technology to mobilize supporters. I remember downloading an Obama application onto my Iphone that I could use to mobilize friends and contacts in battleground states.

If the use of technology and innovation is a sign of what is to come from Obama's Presidency at the White House then we are excited and thrilled because we know it will be such a breath of fresh air given then way he has conducted his campaign.