Who is Ben Self? Obama’s social marketing guy
February 16, 2009 6 Comments
Last week I attended a Google lunch and listened to Ben Self talk about his involvement with the Obama online campaign. Ben Self is one of the guys who set up Blue Star Digital and constructed the Obama online and social marketing campaign from January 2007 – January 2009 (can you imagine working on a campaign for two years? Awesome from a test and learn perspective).
I was extremely keen to understand more about the success and stats of the Obama campaign. Over lunch he gave an overview of the key online elements used throughout the campaign and some of the top level stats. See below for the details:
- Video: There were 1,800 videos created since January 2009. They were viewed 15,000,000 times for 14,000,000 hours.
- Search: For every $1 spent on search, $9 was received in donations. That’s a 900% return on investment.
- Email: After someone register, email was the main method of communications to stay in touch and ensure the supporters rallied around Obama. It was used constantly throughout the campaign with every emails call to action (CTA) being ‘DONATE NOW’.
- Website: The campaign website was developed in 10 days. It evolved over time, but was the focal point/platform for the campaign.
- Technology: Throughout the campaign, technology was used to amplify excitement with the main purpose to try and encourage a moment (or behaviour change).
- Testing: The databases were used to test consumer feedback of campaign content/videos. A control group of 1,000 was used and learnings applied to the content/video prior to mass sends.
- Database: As soon as supporters signed up to the website or campaign, they were segmented based on the several fields captured about them. They were then divided up amongst the campaigners (video trained supporters) based on their profile and communicated with via phone or door knock.
- Smear: The US elections are won and lost on the truth factor (or smear component). Obama’s campaigners ensured that search was a huge part of the fight against smear. Whenever a new rumour surfaced, a search campaign was created to direct people back to the ‘Fight the Smear’ website.
- Community: MyBarack membership site had a focus on being local and developing a community of supporters. It was supporters connection to local and community (offline) Obama events.
- Training: Supporters were able to be educated on Obama’s policies via an online video. The video was used to educate supporters so they could take to the streets and rally more supporters around them.
MyBarack website stats:
- 13,000,000 visitors
- 20,000 voluteer groups
- 200,000 offline events
- 100,000 of the community
Online gave Obama’s campaigners the opportunity to talk to the voters directly and get them interested in the campaign. Ben Self mentioned three key take outs for the campaign.
- Focal point: the website was the campaign hub. All online activity was connected to the website – all social marketing, campaign based sites and search activity was driven back there.
- Build relationships: the key to the campaign was relationships and building them directly with the voters. Obama touched 25% of all voters in the last few days of the campaign. That is a huge number and can sway a vote.
- Involvement: ask for voter involvement. The more they are asked, the more they gave. In most emails, there was a request for a donation of $5 – a small sum. Even voters experiencing economic troubles can commit to $5. Once they have donated, they then have a vested interest in the success of the campaign. They rally others around them.
APPLICATION FOR CORPORATES
So how can any of these campaign learnings apply for corporates? Easily. Each of the three key take outs mentioned above is something every corporate should be engaging consumers with. For every campaign, ask the following questions:
- What is the hub? Where will all traffic be driven to?
- How are we engaging in an ongoing relationship? Is this an awareness campaign or do we want to start a relationship?
- How are you getting consumers involved? Is there anything that you want them to do or commit to?