President Barack Obama changed the game since his successful run in 2008, utilizing the most influential Web platform of the 21st century: social media. He made his presence known across the board, recognizing early that social networks were not only the key to gaining the support he needed to win the election, but to keep a foothold during his presidency and seek a realistic second run in 2012. Here, we take a look at how Obama leveraged social networking, a powerful—and free—tool of influence that reaches across the globe. —Janell Hazelwood
In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama recognized the power of social media as a vital tool for reaching constituents and gaining supporters. He not only became the nation’s first African American president, but he is also arguably the first customer relationship management president as well as the first social media president, based on his campaign’s strategic and savvy use of the Web. (Some even tout his use of Twitter (@BarackObama) as a major factor in his win over Sen. Hillary Clinton). With more than 9 million followers, today the president has been able to use the platform to gain insight on voter’s needs and provide a transparent, up-to-the-minute venue for information and dialogue on U.S. and foreign policy. On July 6, he held a town hall via Twitter, where he answered follower’s questions on the economy and other issues from everyday people.
In 2010, Time magazine put Obama at the top spot in its “Social Influence Index,” which measured appeal by analyzing Facebook and Twitter. With more than 21 million users who “like” his Facebook page, the president holds a prominent and powerful presence on a platform that has more than 750 million users.
Obama has used Youtube to keep supporters and constituents abreast of the ins and outs of his campaign and presidency, having more than 57 million upload views on the White House’s official channel. He’s used the video site to host footage from his administrative addresses as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s speeches and visits across the nation.
Obama’s Website, BarackObama.com, includes a place where hundreds of thousands of supporters can blog, share, and communicate to get the word out about voting in 2012. The campaign team uses this as a way to mobilize volunteers as well as continue the buzz about Obama and the First Family. It makes his campaign and presidency one that is reachable and relatable, and is also a cost-effective way to reach millions both nationally and internationally via the World Wide Web.
Obama’s Flickr provides citizens and media an up-to-the-minute, pictorial history of his campaign and presidency. The online photo management application is yet another tool of transparency, with everyday users constantly updating with the latest images taken by the people, for the people. Users can also comment and add their own captions, and many of the photos are shared via the president’s other social media platforms.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama was able to use LinkedIn to get involved specifically via groups. Users started discussions, asked questions and the Obama administration has been able to become part of the dialogue via its volunteers and supporters.
Obama left no stone unturned when it came to targeting specific groups, from ethnicity to age, via social media. He made his presence known on sites including Myspace, BlackPlanet, Migente.com, and Glee.com, all sites specificially for young urbanites, African Americans, Hispanics and gay and lesbian groups, respectively.