Barack Obama has redefined the landscape of American politics. The impact of Obama’s current campaign for the U.S. Presidency cannot be overstated and may be one of the true ‚defining‘ moments in American political history.
As the apparent Democratic nominee, a significant number of Americans are now convinced Barack Obama is the best choice to be the next President of the United States.
So, how has a junior Senator from Illinois achieved such an incredible ground swell of support during the past year? The short answer is Barack Obama has deployed a formidable political campaign, anchored by his remarkable ability to connect with people from all backgrounds – and from all parts of the country.
No doubt, Senator Obama is a skilled communicator and has proven himself to be one of the great speakers of our time – first demonstrating his ability to connect with a national audience at the 2004 National Democratic Convention where he made an impression that still lingers.
What else sets Obama’s campaign apart? I don’t want to underestimate Obama’s ability to impact potential voters with his speaking ability, but he’s only one guy! He can only be in one place at a time as far as I know. Ah, but we have the tube you say, and Obama’s television ads have obviously been effective. But, we have to consider the fact the tube costs money, big money – and Obama’s got it and getting more every day. This is the interesting part of the story. Sure, Barack Obama has received sizeable donations from wealthy supporters, Corporations and Special Interests, but not as much as the Clinton Machine raised in this way.
Barack Obama made US political history in January by raising a staggering $32 million in contributions, the largest amount ever reported in such a short time. Barack and his team beat the Clinton Machine like a drum – with Hillary raising only about $13.5M.
What’s going on? Where are the contributions coming from?
In short, the Barack Obama team has developed the best Internet Marketing strategy ever deployed by a political candidate – with deference to Ron Paul’s amazing Internet success.
Actually, there are many similarities between the two candidates‘ strategies – both make (or made) excellent use of Social Media Marketing, submitting new posts daily on the major social media sites like Digg, Technorati, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, etc., and both make excellent use of their blogs to communicate their message, to attract more supporters, and most importantly, to raise a significant amount of campaign contributions.
Although starting slowly on the Internet, in the past six months, Barack Obama’s team has been early and aggressive online, making use of YouTube, MySpace, and Google AdWords – to communicate his message of change and to counter campaign attacks, like one lunatic who actually suggested he is Muslim!
Barack Obama’s Website
The Obama website is very well designed, visually appealing, and includes compelling topics that lure you in by making information readily available from a variety of links.
Presentation is the key to grabbing viewers‘ attention on a website, but it’s particularly important on a political candidate’s website. The same kinds of information found on Barack Obama’s website can be found on other candidate’s sites, but it’s presented in a way on the Obama site that makes it easy to find.
While reviewing Obama’s website, I noted subtle changes over time. Obama’s website is not static, it’s constantly changing, or rather evolving as his campaign rolls on. When I first reviewed Obama’s website, well over a month ago, I found it to be nicely designed – and I had no problem finding the information I was looking for. Looking at the site now, it’s even simpler to traverse and to find current information.
The Obama team updates the website daily with news and links to articles, videos, and the latest Barack Obama appearances. The website makes it a snap to volunteer, to make calls in support of Senator Obama, to make contributions, and even to register to vote!
Much like Ron Paul, Barack Obama has become very web savvy in a short period of time and it’s paying off in dollars and Delegates.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Looking at the ‚Barack Obama for President‘ website, the Obama team has applied some effective SEO tactics, but they probably could have done more to make the
website even easier to traverse and to make it a little more Search Engine friendly.
When the website first appears, the viewer sees a ’splash‘ page – an entry page with a video and a signup form to join the Barack Obama ‚team‘ – basically to receive Email concerning the Obama campaign.
Splash pages are fine, but they make the job of the SEO webmaster a little more difficult and I think a case can be made that ’splash‘ pages interfere with the usability of a website. In fact, I think ’splash‘ pages often hinder people from getting to what they really want – in this case, information about Barack Obama!
Beyond the splash page, the website content is compelling and is well designed. Title tags are different for each page, but only the ending portion of each Title Tag. Unfortunately, the Meta descriptions are the same for each page across website, so the Search Engines generally choose their own description to display with the listing of each page. One positive is that most of the images on the website have descriptive Alt tag descriptions and the team also made good use of header tags (h1, h2,).
Often cited as a disadvantage, the fact Barack Obama has a very unique name actually works to his advantage when searching for information about him on the Internet. A search for „Barack“ or a search for „Obama“ across all 4 major search engines has his Presidential campaign website ranked #1 for either name.
Overall, the Obama team has done a very nice job with the foundation of the website. If the team made just a few modifications to their website, they might be even more amazed by the results they may achieve.
Social Media Marketing
Basically, Barack Obama and his team have discovered Social Media, have become experts in a short period of time, and are actively using it to connect with supporters and potential voters from every part of the country. Barack Obama’s early success in Iowa may have a lot to do with the Social Media network they’ve developed. On MySpace alone, Obama has over 350,000 friends, Facebook shows over 270,000, and YouTube shows over 24,000 in subscribers.
The Obama site promotes its own group and event system with the my.barackobama.com section (you can set up your own group, blog, etc.) but I don’t believe it connects with s like Eventful, Meetup or Upcoming.
Barack’s also integrated Flickr & Videos into his website as well. This adds a nice multimedia / social media touch to the site. I think they should also integrate YouTube a bit more into the main website (not just on the blog) and add better descriptions to their Flickr images. These changes could help them take advantage of the audiences they already have on the social sites as well.
Sponsored Listings & PPC
As far as we know, the only other candidate to have a sponsored listing or PPC strategy was Republican Fred Thompson. We found Barack Obama’s campaign is purchasing advertising based on his name across GoogleAs Google, Yahoo & . From what we can tell, Barack Obama is making the best use of sponsored listings of all candidates we reviewed. Live
To improve here, Barack’s team could also consider purchasing advertisements based on „Democrat Candidate for President“ or „Presidential Candidate“. As it is, unless the searcher uses his name in their search they may not know that he’s running for president.
Of course, you’d also have to be living in a hut in Montana not to have heard of Barack Obama at this point, so scratch the last point.
Barack has a blog that is very well integrated with his website. His campaign team are very active bloggers as posts are made continually throughout each day. Before I started this article they had just posted videos (uploaded to YouTube) concerning a new TV ad which will be running in Wisconsin. It was posted about an hour ago and it already has over 325 comments … So people are watching and reading Obama’s blog very actively.
I must admit the „Community Blog“ they have launched is a bit confusing. There’s also no RSS button to subscribe to, just the campaign blog and the social media buttons to promote the blog at the bottom of the main blog page. You can RSS to the comments, but I searched everywhere for an RSS button for the campaign headquarters‘ blog and I couldn’t find one.
Overall, the Barack Obama Presidential campaign and his Internet Marketing strategy are hitting on all cylinders. Yes, Obama’s team could make a few modifications that may help, but with well over a million visitors to the Barack Obama for President Website last month, it’s worth standing back and admiring for a moment. Nice job, Barack.
The Obama team has proven that Internet Marketing is a formidable tool in major political campaigns and, along with candidates like Ron Paul, has changed the way political campaign strategies will be developed and orchestrated in the future.
It seems to me the real Barack Obama story is about connecting with people. The Internet is just another way for Barack to connect with others – and he does it very well.
The fact that Barack Obama’s Internet Marketing strategy is a reflection of Obama himself is a testament to his design team as they have captured the simplicity and elegance of Obama himself. Well done – the results speak for themselves.
There are at least a few Internet service firms who could learn a lot from taking a closer look at Barack Obama’s Internet strategy.
Like the candidate, it sure looks like a winner.
Scott Porter, Managing Partner
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