It’s that time again, time for hopeful potential presidential nominees to start the campaign process for 2012. While it’s still too early to talk about who the frontrunners would be, or make any predictions about the outcome of the election, one thing is already abundantly clear: social media will play an even larger role in this election than ever before.
President Obama’s social strategy in 2008 has been cited ad nauseam as one of the important contributors to his success, but he’s going to have to step up his game for 2012. Even just three years later, the web is a decidedly more social environment. Rather than funneling email marketing and grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns through his own website, as in 2008, he’ll have to utilize the playgrounds of the populace, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to take full advantage of all that the social web has to offer. Take a look at the charts below depicting the top referring and destination sites for BarackObama.com. It’s clear that even in March of this year, before he announced his re-election bid, social sites like Twitter and Facebook have played a crucial role in driving traffic for his campaign with both Facebook and Twitter popping up in the top 11.
Most likely because social media was an effective way to reach his key supporters in the 2008 election (college students and twenty-somethings), President Obama will be holding an interactive town hall hosted on Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg this afternoon at 4:45 EDT. Despite the fact that he won’t be the first important politician to take advantage of Facebook Live (President George W. Bush leveraged the platform to promote his memoir in November 2010), he’s initiating an important step in his campaign that shows he understands that he’ll have to go to the people instead of having the people come to him at WhiteHouse.gov (as in his 2009 interactive town hall).
Since we won’t have access to the online data for today for a while, there will remain many unanswered questions about the success of the Facebook campaign, but one thing is certain: President Obama still has the ability to drive an incredible amount of traffic to his site. Check out this daily reach graph for BarackObama.com from the first ten days of this month. About 30% of Americans online on April 4, the day he announced his re-election bid, visited BarackObama.com.
No matter where you lie on the political spectrum, President Obama’s innovative use of social media will be an interesting case study in American politics. What do you think about President Obama’s use of social media? Will you be attending the Facebook town hall?
Jared is currently the Associate Digital Marketing Manager at Compete (Millward Brown Digital). He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.