Politics Aside
Susan Liao

Let’s talk politics. And social media.The 2008 election was the first time that social media was influential in driving support for either candidate. While the 2012 election results will be heavily influenced by conversations online, it is hard to believe that prior to the 2008 elections, Facebook had yet to expand beyond a small number of colleges and Twitter didn’t even exist.

We aren’t here to predict elections; we’ll leave that to the pundits. We are here to help brands leverage social media to amplify their experiences and we think that brands can learn some basics from the past presidential election.

After President Obama won, politicos analyzed how his team utilized social media to rally support. His biggest asset was Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, who became the architect behind Obama’s social media efforts. Here are three key takeaways that can help any brand in organizing and amplifying their experience:

One Message, Multiple Networks:
Depending on multiple factors, voters consume and digest information in various locations. In 2008, Obama used MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to reach his audiences. Facebook was used to rally consumers for One Million Strong for Barack. LinkedIn to answer questions about demographics and issues. Twitter to announce spontaneous visits and share campaign messages.

Tip: Not all consumers are on every network. Brands can’t miss out on attracting consumers by not leveraging text, photos, and video. With one message, brands need to tailor the message for that network.

Centralized Information, Anywhere:
While broadcasting and engaging on multiple networks is important, having one centralized location to drive traffic back to was key for Obama. Hughes developed my.barackobama.com to become the foundation behind all supporter communications. It connected supporters to each other for online and offline activities. Mybarackobama.com was also an iPhone application that helped activate groups on the go.

Tip: Provide consumers one destination for everything about your experience. Whether it is on your website, a microsite, or a mobile application, consumers don’t want to hunt around for information. Give them options to amplify your brand!

Target Naysayers, Amplify Supporters:
Obama’s team used keywords that weren’t necessarily targeted at the campaign’s supporters. They instead went after keywords that would show up on a non-supporter’s Facebook profile. This was important in driving traffic back to the website and the Facebook page.

Tip: While brand loyalists are important, remember to engage consumers that haven’t paid attention before. Healthy candy bar? Target candy bar eaters, not healthy eaters.

Brands are finding that providing content and information is one of their greatest assets, but discovery and dissemination of that content can be tough. Making it easy and fun for consumers is the key.

Susan Liao, As VP, Digital Solutions at MKTG ING, oversees all digital competencies across the agency, including social media, innovation and technology. Susan has more than 12 years of agency experience, specializing in digital marketing and technology, user experience design, integrated platform development, and innovation. Before joining MKTG INC, Susan held top positions at R/GA and StrawberryFrog.