Barack Obama used multiple “touch points” and social media platforms to create a brand that was a key ingredient to winning the Presidency in 2008. His brand strategy is a case study for marketers to study in creating brand in a New Media Age. President Obama’s branding strategy is something that is a distinct paradigm change from previous social media strategy and branding. It is basic strategy for a company to integrate their websites with social media platforms. What President Obama did that is different is that he created a web site, MyBO.com that functioned as a mini-facebook, a mini-social platform. He broke new ground in the use of social media in branding. Private companies should study Barack’s strategy to understand how to create a world-class brand virtually overnight. In our era this is important for a marketer because there are many, many products. For a product to be chosen from the many, it has to have a strong brand. How does a startup, which is what Barack’s campaign was, create a strong brand when the startup has limitations in capital? Social Media has created a new age. Social Media has changed how modern marketing is done—but a marketer needs a strategy to succeed and that strategy revolves around the strategic use of multiple “touch points”.
At this point I think some important introductory comments have to be made. President Obama is a lightning rod. As in all politicians there are many people Volgers kopen Instagram who like him and there are many who don’t. This article is not a political statement, one way or the other, for President Obama. This article is about social media branding strategy. Irregardless of where you stand in the political spectrum, even Barack’s greatest detractors say his social media strategy was a classic use of social media to create a brand.
When I talk about creating “brand”, please don’t interpret this as a cynical statement of our political system and our way of electing presidents. Marketers should study political campaigns because they are classic studies in the creation of world class brands. In each political cycle, a large group of candidates emerges originally. Only one can be elected. A candidate must quickly distinguish themselves from the rest of the political field. The American people are not stupid. American elections are an example of the wisdom of crowds. To be elected a candidate must show that he is different from the rest of the candidates, and if elected can do a much better job than the others in the field. To win the American Presidency, a candidate must be an expert in creating brand awareness, creating a value proposition, and brand positioning. Winning the Presidency is not unlike creating a new product, and creating the brand for that product to be successful in the marketplace. This is why studying Barack Obama’s social media strategy is important. Barack Obama is analogous to a small startup creating a product, but having significant limitations in name recognition and capital.
In old media, a startup couldn’t afford a large advertising campaign to create brand. Social Media has changed that. Social Media has created a “Perfect Storm”. To create a brand, a marketer has to have scale and presence. A lot of people have to know about your product, and a marketer has to be able to engage those large amounts of people at the precise moment that a purchasing decision is going to be made. Social Media allows a marketer to do just that. Perhaps ¼ of the world’s population belongs to a social media sight, and most of the major social media platforms are integrated. From those sights, a marketer can observe what a consumer does during their day. This tracking allows a marketer to target the individual consumers that are interested in the marketer’s product. A marketer can now target an individual at the precise time that a purchase is going to made.
Barack Obama was one of the first significant marketers to understand the tremendous communication capabilities, database management, and tracking abilities that a social media platform affords a marketer. Barack Obama understood that he could engage large amounts of people at once over many “touch points”. When his campaign first began, Barack had no name recognition and no money. Hilary Clinton had both. Barack understood the forces that social media platforms unleash to a marketer. He realized, far better than anyone else, that his limitations were minor. Barack realized that social media platforms gave him the tool that he needed to create a major brand almost overnight. Before the Obama campaign, social networks were seen as just that—a social network. Someplace you came to hang out with your friends, share pictures, and just basically enjoy yourself. To a limited extent the Howard Dean campaign used social networks to raise money in 2004, but not at the scale that Barack Obama did.
Barack’s campaign was not a haphazard affair. His social media campaign had goals, plans, and objectives. Barack realized that personal engagement was going to be critical. He created a web site that had the scale that was going to be needed. Barack took advantage of some major structural changes in the modern marketplace. Modern people no longer trust advertising. People trust their friends. In a new media age, a product is branded and purchased when two “friends” have a conversation, and a recommendation is made. To be successful a modern brand must be a “friend” to the consumer.
Two sources best explain the world that modern marketers must function in. The June 2009 McKinsey Quarterly talks about The Consumer Decision Journey. The December, 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review talks about “Branding in the Digital Age”. In both cases, in a New Media Age, consumers no longer develop brand awareness through one experience, such as a major advertising campaign. Rather, a brand is created after many and varied experiences between brand and consumer. In a new media age, a brand takes on almost human characteristics. In human relationships, the more experiences we have with an individual the more trust we have for that individual. We choose are friends for their brand. That brand is based on trust. We can depend on our friends. We know a lot of people, but we trust our friends. In a group of people, we seek our “friends”, from a wide group of people, because we can trust them. We realize that our friends are imperfect—there might be “better” people around than our friends—but we seek our friends because we trust them.