There has been a great deal of coverage surrounding the use of social media in the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Much of it has focused on how video, social networks, blogging and other Web 2.0 tools have changed the face of political campaigns forever. But if small businesses take a closer look at how Obama's campaign has utilized these and other technologies, they may be able to see how their strategy may change the face of how they do business. To get some insight, let's take a look at a few things they've done over the last week.
Obama Campaign iPhone App
You can't deny the excitement and passion the iPhone generates with a large number of technology enthusiasts. In order to engage iPhone lovers, companies of all sizes have created apps to run on them. The Obama campaign, wanting to build meaningful relationships with this community, created their own iPhone application people can download for free. The app allows you to organize your contacts by battleground states, provide campaign information, and help you find campaign events taking place in your area.
Advertising on the X-Box
Gamers are also extremely passionate about their hobby. They spend large amounts of time not only playing these games, but also participating in the gaming community. So in order to reach these folks on their turf, Obama's campaign advertised on a billboard in the game Burnout Paradise, reminding the players that early voting has begun. The ads got a great deal of attention and caused much discussion throughout the gaming and Internet communities.
Obama, Google AdWords and Joe the Plumber
Earlier in the week the Obama campaign put up a page on their site that had a tax calculator people could use to see how his tax policy would potentially impact their net income. It included a YouTube video that stated his policy on the subject. It also included code people can cut and paste onto their own websites and blogs, which would help spread his policies in a viral fashion.
This was interesting in its own right and provides a number of takeaways for people looking to get their content in front of a wider audience. What really caught people's attention is what took place after the third and final presidential debate. If you recall, that was the night the country was introduced to Joe the Plumber – the man mentioned over twenty times during the debate. Joe had a pretty long conversation with Obama on the subject of taxes. That conversation led to all those mentions during the debate, which led to Joe becoming a celebrity overnight.
Because everyone was talking about him, the Obama campaign used Google Adwords to buy an ad for the term "Joe the Plumber," and linked it to the tax calculator page. In Google trends you can see a tremendous spike in people searching for Joe. Chances are a percentage of those people may have clicked on the Obama ad leading to his tax calculator – for a few cents per click.
These were just a few of the ways Obama's campaign has embraced the web in order to build relationships with people. Most importantly they've used technology to connect with people in ways that made it comfortable for the people, which should increase the opportunity to really bond with them. These lessons go way beyond politics, as any business can put these tools, strategies and principles in play to reach new customers, and keep the ones they have.
To learn more about how Obama's campaign is using social media, and the lessons small businesses can learn from them, you may want to go to the Barack 2.0 site at www.Barack20.com.