Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twitter/Obama


Marketing Analysis (2 of 6)


Being a active user of the Twitter micro-blogging service, I was fascinated by the Obama campaign’s use of that service throughout the recent US election. (If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, I wrote this short explanation during Module One.)

Much has been written elsewhere about the ground-breaking use of online services and Internet marketing by the Obama campaign. As a candidate he has embraced technology and also the spirit of transparency that it enables. OK so there are 300 million people in the US, only a minute fraction of whom would be using Twitter. The difference is that they are an active audience; rather than the passive audience that Obama can market to on TV. One Obama tweet (or, at least one coming from one of his social media staffers) asking people to donate to the Red Cross during this Summer’s hurricane was able to overwhelm the Red Cross website.

So who is the target market here? US citizens of voting age would be the most general definition. Focussing in from that, it is the early-adopters and the technorati, (those who actively use Twitter).
Obviously I am not a US citizen and am ineligible to vote in US elections, but that does not imply that I am disinterested. So while I may not fall into the core target market, I think that as a citizen within a globalised economy I fall somewhat within the remit of people whom the campaign may want to speak to, and more tellingly, to influence.

Scanning the Twitter-feed can be an intoxicating experience once you get used to it. The juxtapositions it facilitates are endlessly varied. The chronological sequence of posts means that a post from NASA’s Mars Phoenix lander with the current weather on Mars may be followed by a post from the actor Stephen Fry on-location shooting a documentary, followed by a friend talking about his children, followed by an Obama post, followed by a news post from RTE or from the Irish Times. It is a great leveller, in that the personal messages and the marketing messages and the news stories all receive equal emphasis.

The Obama Twitter account has gone quiet since his election, with nothing posted since the fifth  of November. Obviously, there is not a lot of time available for blogging during the presidential transition period. Which is a shame, as it would be great to have regular Twitter updates from the within White House. (I see that while twitter/whitehouse and twitter/potus are all taken twitter/uspresident seems to be still available.)

From a marketing perspective there is a exponential shift when transitioning from being campaigning to being presidential. Their marketing activity has shifted over to the Change.Gov site for the transition period. That website deserves a whole other Marketing_2.0 blog post in its own right. Vocal entrepreneur and tech commentator Jason Calacanis has argued that the new administration ought to have a presence on the top ten social networking sites, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace and such. These are now the mainstream media to the upcoming generation, the sources where they consume their information. Calacanis proposed that as part of the presidential communications office they should appoint a Social Media Secretary. The time is now.