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Published September 24th 2012

How the Obama Campaign Could Lead to Digital Lessons for Us All

I came across an interesting post from Daniel Priestly (who runs Triumphant events and has recently stepped down as interim CEO of the social networking site Ecademy) recently that got me thinking.

He was drawing our attention to the way in which the application of the top marketing brains to the action of the US Presidential election can lead to lessons for us all.

Last time, the Obama campaign effectively used Twitter and crowd funding to walk all over the competition. This time round the game has moved on.

Four years ago the Obama campaign had “Obama everywhere” which enabled supporters to click through to whichever medium or environment they fancied, be it Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or any other platform.

This time it’s more organised and purposeful. The campaign is using a tool that seems to be a cross between an aggregator and an affiliate scheme known as Dashboard.

It allows you to sign up using your zip code and effectively seems to operate as an activist’s tool kit.

This seems to be the most sophisticated implementation yet of the idea of giving your supporters a megaphone that was outlined in Seth Godin’s seminal “Flipping the Funnel” e-book all those years ago.

However, this is just one example. Daniel suggests we can learn from what happens in the elections by paying attention to:

  • the tools being used: the web sites, the platforms, the apps, the software.
  • the content: the number of messages, the length of videos, the frequency, the way the message is presented and the balance of emotional vs. logical arguments.
  • the interaction: how they respond to the media, each other and to voters.
  • what they ask people to do: downloads, actions, commitments, etc

This resonated with me because over the last few weeks I have been experimenting with the new generation of curation and aggregation tools while working on a business support project.

Broadly, most sites exist to inform, to initiate transactions or to build community; or otherwise some blend of these components.

As far as information is concerned we are now all on overload. We want to be able to find all we need to know on a topic in one place, and that what is in that place has already been filtered and tailored to our needs.

There is now a range of tools that will let us take content that we have found and commented on and to repackage it into widgets on content created sites: scoop.it, Paper.li, widgetbox, and storify are all good examples.

This means that information-rich portals that integrate Facebook discussions, Twitter streams and curated content can be easily constructed.

Combining these with the events, messages and communications that Dashboard is taking would be a great idea, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that becoming more mainstream, with many smaller companies doing this in two to three years.

It will also be interesting to see how much of this makes its way onto mobile devices during the campaign. I can quite easily see that the tool of choice for world domination being the iPad this time round.

Dashboard claims to ’empower you to take on a major role’ in the Obama 2012 campaign. You can view it here.

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