Obama for America 2012, from a social/digital perspective, was arguably the greatest fundraising, communications, and voter mobilization efforts, ever.  Our global digital communications practice director, Andrew Bleeker, shared his campaign work insights from 2012 and 2008, with clients and staff this week.

The scale of the Obama social/digital campaign is hard for us to appreciate; a team of 200, and a monthly social advertising budget of $12 million.  However, there were some key aspects that transcend scale.  Here are eight lessons that we think apply to a team of two to three, just as much as they do to a team of 200.

1.  Outputs that get shared

Sometimes a different lens, or a question in the back of your mind, can put a new emphasis on our work. The question here is “what gets shared?” We are all pretty good at getting information out.  However, if consideration or emphasis can be put on what gets shared, content and messages will be amplified.

Dog and cat photos are not often client options, but if, for example, infographics are what get consumed and shared by pharma audiences, then start pushing for greater frequency/efforts.  This ties into the next lesson…

2.  Data to actionable measurement

One area that touches on almost all of the key insights are the possibilities for data and measurement.  So much can be measured in social/digital, instantaneously.  We need to consider our measurement and data opportunities to enhance our social/digital activities.  We have to think about this in the strategy/planning/design phase before we go out to target audiences.  Data will allow us to be responsive to audience needs, and ultimately provide better results.  We have the expertise and tools to make data and measurement a value proposition, as well as a competitive advantage.

3.  Trust gets personal

People trust their friends more than they trust experts, industry leaders or politicians.  If I make a post, my personal social network is more likely to believe it.  Social advertising now allows us to amplify positive posts, to ensure that it fully reaches an individual’s personal social network.  Practically this means, if someone makes a great post on our clients’ Facebook page, we can pay to ensure that 100 per cent of their personal social network sees that post.  If we didn’t, at most, this would show up in 20 per cent of the individual’s personal social network.  This is a new form of advertising, and a new way to extend word of mouth.  It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it can be measured.

4.  Influencer outreach

Creating lists of Twitter influencers should be an important strategic consideration in our work.  This in itself isn’t novel.  However, what isn’t done often enough is nurturing the relationship with influencers, and, where possible, mobilizing them to support our objectives.  This is relationship building that can be scaled.  It doesn’t have to be 100s, but could be the 5, 10, or 20 that can amplify our messages, reach and engagement.

5. Keep to the message, lead with facts

Campaign 101:  Stick to the message.  We all know that, but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize and make the connection between our individual tactics and the overarching theme.  Also, facts matter.  Leading with the facts makes a difference.  Also if we consider point three (trust gets personal), facts can be shared and we want content that gets shared.  We know that our clients often have a need to get their perspective out.  We need to think about how facts can support the message in a format that looks to leverage how they can be shared and amplified in social/digital.

6. Refinement via testing

I personally loved Bleeker’s point that the highest paid person in the room usually has the final say on design.  We know this happens.  We also know that we do a lot of testing before we go live.  Unfortunately, what we don’t do enough of is leverage target audience data to refine pages, content, and messages once they are in the field.  This once again is connected to point two, that we have the data opportunities to do so, but we don’t often refine the way we could/should.

7. Mobile front door

Mobile sites are the new front door.  It’s now where many people go first, and for some where they will only go.  Even in lower income brackets.  Bleeker’s point is that mobile doesn’t have to mirror a full fledged website, but it should do a few simple things well.  We can use points six (refine), two (measure) and one (share) to determine what works and where there is an interest.

8. Reputation response

The idea of using social ad networks, in a crisis communications/reputation management scenario is something we should explore.  This could be the new “dark site” that we set up for our clients to prepare for the worst.  The notion of buying the ad beside/above the article hammering our client is not a mythical unicorn.  It is doable and can be supported with numbers one (share), two (measure), three (trust), and five (message/facts) above.

There were many takeaways from Bleeker’s insightful presentation. And, by no means is this an exhaustive list.  We just wanted to provide some food for thought on how his lessons learned on the national stage, can translate to our everyday business.

BONUS CONTENT

Extra value for those of you who made it to the end!  There were more than eight ideas.  Other points to consider:

  • Email is not dead and is alive and well (e.g. – links are gateway to engagement in social/digital)
  • Cross channel target audience data integration has exponential benefits (e.g – link all we know from in person, email, social, web, etc. in one spot)
  • Expanding the value proposition through social (e.g. Nike+ apps = healthy people = +ve brand = +ve sales)
  • Getting out early means better, stronger relationships (e.g. ROI of building relationships is greater over time)