Relevancy Rules
November 9, 2009
Would Lincoln have used a Mac or a PC?
November 9, 2009

By Rick Sherman

A little embellished? Some political pandering perhaps? Let’s take a deeper look at the profound impact that leveraging social networking had on the Obama campaign, and then understand the principals as they relate to your online identity.

First, let’s understand that President Obama wasn’t the first politician to leverage online networks in his campaign. However, let’s acknowledge that no one has done it better. He used the power of internet networking to break the indestructible Clinton machine, and then topple a significantly more experienced John McCain. The ability to connect with people, rather than just inform, provided a dramatic difference in the way this campaign was run, and how future campaigns will be conducted. They threw away the “old” rules, and engaged the masses like never before. Websites used to be the window to the world. You could look through, gather information, and then go to the next glass pane. That has all changed. Social networks are about connecting people. They are not windows to peer through, but rather doorways inviting the public to enter. The website is still a critical component, but social networking is simply the most advanced vehicle created to drive traffic to them!

Here are some stats previously gathered by Internet WorldStats:

Facebook Supporters:

Obama vs. McCain      Advantage Obama by 380%

MySpace Supporters:

Obama vs. McCain      Advantage Obama by 380%

YouTube Channel Views:

Obama vs. McCain      Advantage Obama by 905%

Twitter Followers:

Obama            Over 112,000

McCain            Over 4,600

The disparity is astounding!

In addition, text messaging was also a core component of the campaign. It is estimated that over 90% of Americans are within three feet of their cell phones 24/7. Additionally, over 90% open and read text messages (which is significantly higher than any email open rate). When the Obama campaign announced Joe Biden as the running mate, it is believed to be the largest mobile marketing event in U.S. history. Couple that with “Get The Vote Out” messages, and you have a profoundly powerful tool that costs a fraction of traditional marketing.

President Obama was on more than 15 different social network sites during the campaign. The goals were simple; use the viral nature of social networking to…Build the brand, organize voters, get “boots” on the street, create a large donor base, and of course…drive people to the website where the message was clear and concise. For example…with over 2,000,000 supporters on Facebook, imagine how many friends of friends were exposed? We’ll never know the exact number, but it is safe to presume it would border on unbelievable!

All this is impressive in its own right. However, as they say, it is just the tip of the iceberg. President Obama has a database of millions upon millions of names that can be engaged instantly and simultaneously. To this end, he conducted his first Presidential weekly radio address on YouTube. Why? To continue the methodology, and grow the base. You see, social networking was a campaign tool that has now transformed into a governing tool. Imagine the power to push through policy backed by public support. Integrated Marketing Strategy!

“In a connected world, power shifts to those best able to connect.” – Dov Seidman

So what does this all mean to you?


Obama understood that while over 60% of adults in America belong to a social network, most only belong to one. In order to reach the people…you need to find the people. Leveraging multiple social networks is key to not only reach a broad audience, but…


According to Google, approximately 90 percent of people who find a Web site through a search engine will click on a result from the first page of the search. So if you are buried in the returns, you have less than a 10% chance of being found. Tough odds! Understanding search engine “rules” and coupling that with social networks creates two areas of critical importance:

  1. Directly linking your social networks to your sites.
  1. Improving your web page returns in search streams.


Using a comprehensive approach across multiple platforms, and understanding the viral nature of social networking, allows for multiple connection points to both target markets and broader demographics. Social Networks + Blogging + Twitter + Video Uploads + Posting Articles = Increased Exposure, Brand Building, Website Traffic, RESULTS!


How much would you pay in traditional marketing to reach an audience of 10,000? Would you use direct mail? Newspaper advertisements? Cable commercials? Radio?

Understanding the principals of consumer buying habits, meaning the touches would have to be repetitive over a limited period of time…what would your annual budget have to be? $20,000? $50,000? $100,000? More?

With social networking you can build an extended database of qualified prospects as well as an expanded database to spread virally to those out of network (friends of friends), and “touch” them repeatedly for a fraction of the cost.


I am often asked if social networking and an integrated strategy is really worth all the “buzz”. My only reply is this… “If a man with limited political experience, who was running against traditional political powers, can utilize social networking as a key component in his strategy…and become the most powerful leader in the world…using it to grow your business is not an unrealistic goal!”

Rick Sherman is a senior level business adviser and consultant for Forward Progress, Inc. and the President of New Essence Media, a marketing agency focused on developing strategies through “Intelligent Integration”. For Additional Information: [email protected]