Tuesday, 31 March 2009

eCampaigning forum - Obama campaign insider tells us about blogging for the elections

Sam Graham-Felsen of Obama campaign
blogger on the campaign

- The campaign knew Obama was an underdog - the plan was to harness the energy of grassroots - Obama said to the team that "it had to happen from bottom up"

Three pillars of online campaign
- message
- money
- mobilization

- authenticity
- it's about everyone not only Obama. African Americans felt that they can be anything they want to be.
- over 2,000 videos uploaded - telling stories of people who supported the campaigns
- 5 times as many videos as other campaigns
- 1 billion minutes of video web content was consumed = 2,000 years of viewing - youtube powerful because they are usually sent with a personal recommendation
- video explaining why Obama campaign in Florida needs 39 million dollars used to raise these funds
- mini-documentaries - although 18 minutes - it worked - the video was viewed over million times
- fun videos that plugged the action around the campaign (e.g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg56KbtmARc)
- using supporters content - reached out to supporters - example of Shepard Fairey
- "yes we can" youtube video

The game is changing:
*new media - building the movement - turning people from passive supporters to evangelists of the movement
* traditional media - getting votes - of those who are undecided

- how to raise half a billion?
- fundraising was never about money - they didn't set the goals which were about money - instead of we need XXX dollars by the end of the week they would say we need XX people to join the movement
- people could be chosen to meet Obama even if they give a smallest donation (breaking down the barriers)
- asking supporters to explain on video why they donate to the campaign, what motivates them
- an email in response to Sara Palin speech where she dismissed grassroots campaigning raised 10 million dollars

Building the email list
- the Obama campaign list grew organically, Republicans campaign bought lists
- competitions (dinner with Barack)
- Send to a friend - made it very easy - you can upload all of your contacts and pester them
- Active presence on My Space Facebook and LinedIn
Online Ads - asking people to join the campaign
- the match game - traditionally one wealthy donor says they will donate 1 million if a bunch of people donates 1 million ; change is to ask a bunch of donors to pledge to donate more if other donors donate more (this was done using a sophisticated segmentation system)
- 2/3 of income of the whole campaign came online, most of donations are under $100
- house parties - neighbours will go and organise their own
- mybarackobama.com made it easier for field organisers to organise supporters. It help build real relationships. Campaigners were working together already - relationships already built, so this was easier for field organisers when they arrive at a location.

Other campaigns had to start from scratch - train people and organise them.


1 Online ads - example of a different way of doing it - caucus look-up tool (location) - flooded Iowa newspaper websites with it as well as the social media

2 Opening up to user generated content and keep it open is sometimes an issue for NGOs
- Example - a group against Obama's position on some law on privacy/data protection Obama voted for in the Senat. The group grew to 20k. Obama didn't want to change his position. He wrote back to the group - explained why he disagreed with them and he knew that he will lose some of them
- Keeping people engaged after the victory - Organising for America - campaign supporters now - campaigning still - gathering support for Obama's plan. The group will be supporting Obama's presidency.

3 Sign-off
Sam's posts were reviewed until he was trusted to do it himself. When he started employing bloggers he told them that bloggers need to tell their story from their own perspective, but their post shouldn't end up in the media

4 Subject lines for emails - rigorous testing

5 In-depth content viewing? - focussed on building a grass-roots movement, voices of ordinary people

6 Importance of Facebook and Twitter in comparison with email lists?
Didn't want to have paople only sitting on Facebook. They tried to move them onto http://mybarackobama.com. This site was seen as a mobilization network not a social network. Email had the best impact - in terms of raising funds. Mainly because you can test and tweak email.

1 comment:

benclowney said...

Great stuff... thanks very much for doing this.

A few other points that I'd jotted down:

- It is important to create a wide range of videos, so that there is always something an individual would want to forward
- Genuine transparency is very important
- Be clear on your overarching message
- Respond to attacks on your values (e.g. their instant response to Palin's attack on community organizing)
- Plan ways to gather data at rallies / large events