The power and limitation of Internet for political campaigning

The 2008 US Presidential Election was mostly about one thing… Internet campaigning. Some credited the Internet as the reason for Obama’s victory, apart from his verbose rhetoric and attractive ethnicity (African-Caucasian mix). In fact, for the COM125 group project, my group decided to do a research on Obama and his Internet campaign as it was not only very relevant but also because we were curious as to how the Internet helped him. The below are some trivia on the power of Obama’s Internet campaign.

The Power of Obama’s Internet Campaign:

  • Obama’s campaign team set up a profile for Obama on Facebook.
  • Obama’s campaign team used a marketing technique, microtargeting, to tap on the potentials of Facebook’s vast database of personal information.
  • Microtargeting created a personal touch to the two-way communication channel between Obama and his voters
  • Obama’s profile has 807, 061 users following his campaign via Facebook.
  • His profile also churned the most following as compared to John McCain (121,152) .
  • Obama’s Facebook profile encouraged discussion groups and even fan pages that run independent fundraising for the cause of Obama’s campaign
  • Obama shared his photos from his campaign trail and speeches with the world via Flickr and YouTube respectively.
  • A fundraising event on Facebook group “One Million Strong for Barack” was able to raise $10,000 for the Obama campaign in just 2 weeks.
  • Obama’s campaign team has 13 million people on their emailing list.
  • Obama has approximately 2000 official videos on YouTube, watched over 80 million times.
  • There are also 442,000 user-generated videos on his campaign on Youtube.
  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Craiglist founder Craig Newman were also enlisted by Obama’s team as advisors.
  • Obama’s campaign team also hired Facebook’s co-founder, Chris Hughes to administer his campaign’s social networking sites.

Picture credited from Neuroanthropology.net

I think the limitations with the Internet is that the Internet is dominated by younger voters and obviously the majority of voters are not the younger Internet-active voters. Therefore, offline campaigning is still necessary to woo older voters. Other thing to note is that Obama’s success lied in his use of the Internet to aid his offline campaign, and not the sole use of the Internet.

Much as the Internet is able to cut down the time taken to reach to a wide pool of voters, face-to-face contact is still necessary for voters to relate to and be convinced to vote for a particular presidential candidate. After all, people are voting for a person, not a persona.

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