Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama’s Use of Technology in the Digital Age

There has been much speculation over the last week over who will be President Obama’s CTO. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has declined the position. In the meantime, thousands of people are continuing to use Barack Obama’s website to suggest and vote on ideas on various issues including the CTO position. The campaign has more than 10 million e-mail addresses. This was the first election campaign to successfully use the benefits of technology: cost-effectiveness, scalability, instantaneous communications, interactivity and personalization. The Internet has provided a way of engaging directly with an audience in a personal and interactive way, unlike traditional media in previous campaigns. More importantly, President Elect Obama is acutely aware of how best to engage the younger voters who obtain more information online than from TV. • Engaging a co-founder of Facebook was a smart move Initially Barack Obama’s campaign sought advice from the Internet pioneer and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, the man who created the first web browser. Then he attracted Chris Hughes, 24, one of four founders of Facebook to leave his company in early 2007 to work in Chicago on Obama's new-media campaign. The use of social networks has revolutionized the Web as a political tool in both raising funds and organizing and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of supporters. During the election, the Obama campaign uploaded 1,800 videos, five times as many as the McCain camp. Obama also made active use of Twitter, a popular networking tool that lets users send short text messages, or 'tweets', to users' mobile phones. Users could upload their personal contacts to the site and send group e-mails to get out the vote. Or they could download a script and based on their address, get a calling list for their neighborhood. Users could also link to about 18 separate social networks. It was not about the technology but using it as a tool to connect emotionally to people, to create groups and communities. Communications was simple and yet personal. Anyone registering on Obama’s site, purchasing from the online store or donating to the campaign, received e-mails. Just after Obama’s acceptance speech, those same registered supporters received a thank you message in email and text format. Future political candidates cannot afford not to incorporate the use of the Web, social networks and mobile texting technology to connect and communicate with potential voters. • The new President will continue to utilize the Web in a new age of democracy “Obama aides and allies are preparing a major expansion of the White House communications operation, enabling them to reach out directly to the supporters they have collected over 21 months without having to go through the mainstream media," The WashingtonPost. Businesses can learn much from our new President. From small business to big business to entrepreneurial start-up, a digital marketing strategy can help you connect with your current customers and prospects. In a tight economy, there’s simply no excuse to not engage and start building a relationship. Got a question: post a comment or e-mail me at


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