Lessons Learned from Obama’s Online Strategy
July 17, 2008
Obama has done a great job with using the web to advance his campaign, and his campaigned has successfully embraced a number of best practices. For example, earlier this week there was an instructive article in the New York Times that talked about how one of the founders of Facebook is helping the Obama campaign.
The article outlines four strategies that have helped them be successful. These strategies are useful lessons for not only campaigns, but also for nonprofits that are trying to mimic the success of Obama online efforts.
- Keep it local
Tip O'Neil said that all politics is local. That same idea works for internet strategies. Many national groups fail to put their online campaigns in a context that people can understand. If you can show a local angle it will help make it real for individuals.
- Chop the list up into manageable chunks and organize them
The idea of segmenting outreach and then targeting communication to those different audiences is a tactic that marketing agencies have embraced, much to their clients' success. Unfortunately, many groups think that this is only a necessary action for national nonprofit organizations. That is not the case. Even small local nonprofits should think about how they can do this.
- Give supporters the tools to organize themselves – "In some primary and caucus states, volunteers used the Internet to start organizing themselves months before the campaign staff arrived."
- "Obama's campaign began carefully opening up its files of voters to online supporters, making it easier to find out which Democratic-leaning neighbors to call and which registered-independent doors to knock on."
- One goal is to drive online energy into in-person support.
- "You can have the best technology in the world," Mr. Hughes said, "but if you don't have a community who wants to use it and who are excited about it, then it has no purpose."
This makes the point that starting slow and then building in more complex activities is the most appropriate strategy. Too often group say we need our supporters/members to do X, without realizing that their supporters are not ready to do X and that they need to get to that activity through baby steps and educating the community.
These are some great practical strategies that nonprofits and campaigns can employ to develop a more effective online strategy.