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Obama Leads the Polls … in Cyberspace

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Posted At: April 9, 2008 12:27 PM
by Anna Katherine Owen

Myspace, Facebook, Ilike, Flickr and … MyBarackObama.com? Several presidential candidates are embracing social media or “new media” and using new media tactics to attract voters on the Web. A front-runner in the new political media campaign was distinguished early on among voters. Democratic hopeful Barack Obama has successfully used new media tactics to interact with a network of supporters, especially through blogs and his social networking site MyBarackObama.com.

But the question is, Is there a correlation between Obama’s prevalence in the news media and his use of social media? While there may be heated debate that Obama’s use of social media has increased his popularity, especially among people age 18 to 34, there is no argument that the Obama campaign has embraced social media far more than any other candidate’s. According to Phil Noble from the consulting firm of Politics Online, “Barack Obama could be to the internet what JFK was for television.”

Much like Myspace and Facebook, MyBarackObama.com is a Web site on which users can interact with other Obama supporters and even campaign staffers through blogs and messages. Other MyBarackObama options allow you to create events and groups, fundraise for the campaign and phonebank all from the “dashboard” home page.  It was only after Clinton discovered the popularity of Obama’s social networking site, MyBarackObama.com, that she incorporated blogging and other social media tactics into her campaign.

As of February 2008, Obama’s campaign home page,http://www.BarackObama.com, had 500 million more hits than opponent Hillary Clinton’s http://www.Hillaryclinton.com. As of March 2008 Senator Obama had raised $15 million more than Clinton, with the majority of the funds coming from online donations.

In light of recent events, Obama has successfully employed the use of his new media team and new media tactics to get a specific message to a target audience. Obama and his new media team quickly made visible Obama’s response to Jermiah Wright’s controversial statements about racial relations in America, through blogs, e-mails and his Web site, long before he gave a public statement.

Obama called on bloggers and social networkers alike with this message disseminated via e-mail and blogs: “As the e-mails and accusations about this continue to swirl, I need all of your help in the coming weeks and months to please forward this video on and get this message out to everyone you can.” The hope of the Obama campaign was that the video would be widely distributed through a technique known as viral video marketing. Viral video marketing, much like viral marketing, encourages others to pass along the video to a friend, in turn producing both publicity and hype.

Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUovPFMtfbM

So will Obama win the nomination of his party? That decision will be left up to the remaining primaries and superdelegates, but one thing is for certain: Obama leads the polls among cyberspace navigators and has successfully enhanced his campaign through social media tactics.

Sources:

Jarvis, Jeff. (2008, Jan. 8). “Obama the internet victor?” Retrieved April 16, 2008, message posted to www.buzzmachine.com/2008/01/08/obama-the-internet-victor/

(2008, March 28). “Social media & Obama and Clinton campaigns.” Interview with Peter Blackshaw conducted by Jennifer Jones retrieved April 16, 2008, fromtronmarketing.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/hilary-and-obama/

(2008). “Internet Key To Obama Victories.”  Retrieved April 16, 2008, Web site:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7412045.stm

(2008). “My Barack Obama Home Page.” Retrieved April 16, 2008, Web site: http://www.mybarackobama.com

(2008). “Movers & Shakers Traffic Graph.” Retrieved April 16, 2008, from Alexa Web site: http://www.alexa.com/

Do you agree that Obama has successfully used media tactics to reach a younger crowd in the 2008 Presidential race?

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