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Examples: The first election won with social media?

Obama social media campaign The US elections were a defining moment for the use of social media in politics. The Obama campaign generated a massive stream of motivating, engaging content that they successfully distributed across email, social media platforms and their own websites. This formed a turning point in how governments communicate with their citizens.

Obama on MySpace | Obama on You Tube

The Obama election campaign

This was a stepchange in the way politics works. At the heart of the campaign was an engine that took policy ideas and succeeded in turning them into a movement for social change. The technology took policy ideas and made them accessible and engaging, reaching a new generation on their own terms. The campaign team segmented their audiences tightly so people received messages that were truly tailored: different messages for supporters of different parties, for those that donated and those that did not, and for those that were interested in different aspects of policy.

The Obama campaign brought politics to the web on a grand scale for the first time. By synchronising the messaging in traditional media with the clips released through YouTube and social media, they were able to achieve a seismic shift in the delivery of political messaging. And then they went a step further: they encouraged citizens to share their voice. From the discussion parties in houses, to the campaign meetings run by local supporters, to the mass rallies, the campaign became a genuine movement for social change.

Digital channels were the catalyst for igniting this, but the ideas were clearly independent of the technology. What the technology allowed was to make this real for US citizens, and then to involve them in the process. Messenger, Mobile marketing, Twitter and all the new relationship tools simply extend the channels further.

The campaign continues

After the election it didn’t stop. The campaign team continue the movement for change by retaining the channels that give The White House a direct route into the inbox of millions of people around the world. From healthcare to welfare reform, international relations to economic crisis, citizens are involved and connected. The campaign has changed the culture of politics in the US and changed the nature of the electorate. Social media has achieved an education process that has reengaged people in democracy and politics, raising the quality of debate and raising the level of participation. That’s not simple a victory for one presidential candidate in one country at one time, it’s a step change for society.

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