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Theory & Audience Analysis

Facebook Elects Obama

A response to Interactivity and Branding, public political communication as a marketing tool

This article made me question how big of a role social media will have in the upcoming presidential election. In order to make a speculation, I looked back to the role the internet had on the election of Barack Obama in 2008. There was an article published by Fast Company on April 1, 2009 by Ellen McGirt. In the article, McGirt gives background on Chris Hughes and his role with the creation of Facebook and the reelection of Obama.

Hughes, a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard, is one of the founders of Facebook. However, reading Fast Company’s magazine, I was able to see the distinction between the co-founders of Facebook. Hughes is a strategist, because he possesses insight into human behavior and how social media can affect it. McGirt wrote, “he has been plowing what he observes about human behavior into online systems that help real people do what they want to do in their real lives.” He was the man who emphasized the importance of keeping “private” social networks on Facebook to give people a sense of security. Also, Fast Company gave him the credit of electing Obama.

Hughes was asked to jump ship from his Facebook home to assist with the Obama campaign. McGirt describes:

                 His key tool was My.BarackObama.com, or MyBO for short, a surprisingly intuitive and fun-to-use networking Web site that allowed Obama supporters to create groups, plan events, raise funds,   download tools, and connect with one another — not unlike a more focused, activist Facebook.  MyBO also let the campaign reach its most passionate supporters cheaply and effectively. By the time the campaign was over, volunteers had created more than 2 million profiles on the site, planned 200,000 offline events, formed 35,000 groups, posted 400,000 blogs, and raised $30 million on 70,000 personal fund-raising pages.

As the first election in the real age of social media, the effects it had on the Obama campaign was unprecedented. Since that time, the amount of active users on Twitter has exploded. I follow a plethora of news commentators, politicians, journalists, etc., and Twitter has become my main source of reading headlines. My morning routine consists of reaching for my phone, and scrolling through my Twitter feed to see if anything grabs my attention. If so, I click on provided links to news articles or seek other news sources to research the headline.

Politicians now have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. I’m following those who have announced their presidential campaigns, and this is how I’ll stay informed in the presidential election of 2012. My question is how effective will the social media strategy in each campaign? Hughes was a trailblazer, implementing effective strategy, and he understand social media should not just be used but strategy should be its driving force.



About lindseyhuston

I'm a strategic thinker with an eye for design. A recent graduate of Wofford College, my liberal arts background in Philosophy and English provided me with extensive writing and analytical skills. I’m adding to my skill set at Elon University learning as an MA in Interactive Media student. Teachable, driven, with an affinity towards networking, I hope to utilize my skills in a career in advertising and interactive design.


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