C O M M U N I C A T I O N S 2.0
Mobilise, Empower, Organise, Involve, Stimulate, Fundraise, Get feed-back
Niels Jørgen Thøgersen
President Barack Obama is now well installed and has under very difficult circumstances started implementing his very ambitious political programme.
For communicators like me it is time to try to analyse his very new and successful on-line communication campaign in more detail. And not only because the campaign is now over. But also because Obama and his team will continue to use and develop most of the communication initiatives he used during his campaign. During the campaign the activities were called: Triple O ( Obama’s On-line Operations ). Now many call his continued efforts in this field: Obama 2.0
Which lessons can we learn from his approach? And not least: Which Operational Conclusions can we as Europeans draw from him? And even use with success in Europe in coming elections, referenda, etc. ?
Learn What ?
Can we learn anything from Barack Obama’s on-line communication strategy ?
YES, WE CAN !
And why should we learn from it ? Because it’s
TIME FOR CHANGE !
You might recognise those two replies ? They were
the two main messages
, which Obama used during his entire campaign for president in the US. Clear messages, which are positive. Fit for the situation in the US. Easy to use. And easy to remember. They were simply the only repetitive messages he and his campaign used
all the time
. They were so frequent and so visible that millions very quickly identified with them. And made them their own.
During the campaign the messages were further developed. Like this one:
I ask you to believe. Not only in my ability to make change. But in your own ability to work for change
People were made heroes of change themselves. Being part of it all. It worked.
Interactive Web 2.0 Tools:
But these clear messages are not the only important innovation in the Obama campaign. He brought them across by
using the full arsenal of all available modern communication instruments
. From a very dynamic web 2.0 websiteBarackObama.com to a very active and personal presence on about 16 different social networks from MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg and Twitter to more special ones like Black Planet, AsianAvenue and MiGente. And backing it all up by state-of-the-art distribution channels like YouTube, Flickr and Eventful. All of them used in a very coordinated way at all times. Thereby reaching out to millions and millions of citizens, not least the younger generations in America.
The policy behind all the on-line activities were and are: Meet the Voters where they are
And this was actually far from all: He also used the web to
. Mobilise them to work for him – to identify with him – to make his campaign their own. Letting them take ownership. His main instrument on the web was the site
( “My Barack Obama” )He used the so-called Pyramid Principle – asking a person to find ten persons, where each of them again find ten persons, etc. And promising them to be the first to know, when he takes new initiatives like his choice for running mate or what he would say in major TV shows. This way he mobilised about 13 million activists all over the country. Got their e-mail addresses and about 1,3 million mobile phone numbers – making it possible for him to communicate directly and instantaneously with them at any moment and very, very fast. And he never ever sent an e-mail or a text message to anybody, who had not given him their e-mail address or mobile phone number. This campaign was not only national and not only organised in different ways in the 50 American states. It went all the way down to local level and local committees – run by activist in many different ways. About 10 million people joined in in different ways. And 1,2 million of them met or talked to 68 million voters
The Obama campaign also built up an enormous database called
. It held information about 220 million Americans – either collected by the activists or information bought in. This made it possible to tailor-make and localise much of the information, which was sent out.
Obama also got millions of
small financial contributions
to his campaign – adding up to 750 million dollars. Two thirds of that amount was raised over the web as small amounts from 5 to 200 dollars. That money came from 3 million different people. Much more than any political candidate ever did before.
Feed-back by text messages ( sms ):
The campaign also organised that all his activitists permanently
via text messages could feed
information into a central data base
on what people were worried about. This made it possible for him to react in real time – and often before any media got hold of a story.
Constantly active and innovative:
All these very well coordinated initiatives were
. It’s crucial to move forward at all times – never to sit back and let others dominate the agenda.
The Campaign as Media News in Itself:
And very important: By running a big campaign like that
the traditional media will consider
the campaign itself as NEWS
. It’s the media, which run after the campaign – no longer the other way around. Also in this way Obama’s strategy was a very interesting innovation.
Interesting websites in the Obama strategy – past and present:
His web 2.0 campaign website: The “epicentre” of the on-line campaign )
His website to mobilise activists: My Barack Obama or MyBo:
His mobile WAP site:
His TV site: Barack Obama TV
His new PRESIDENT ELECT website – started within 24 hours after his election:
Site for people to tell their story about the election: It’s Your America. Tell Your Story
To run this operation the campaign had
employed in its Chicago headquarters.
And a lot of the mobilised volunteers around the country.
8. His Citizens Briefing Book: Collected more than 44.000 ideas and suggestions:
9. His special site: Your Seat at The Table during the President-elect period:
Openness in practice
10. His site Join the Discussions also during the President-elect period:
11. His new White House web site:
His new “Organization for America” site:
What is COMMUNICATIONS 2.0 ?
Why do I call this strategy – this approach:
Because it is
a NEW way of communicating
. It lifts communication to a new, higher and much more interactive level than before. Not by inventing new technologies, but by the way it is organised. By the whole approach. And also because it puts all the possibilities of web 2.0 into practical operation.
What we all have been doing until now has been COMMUNICATION 1.0. Yes, most of us have probably used some of these new possibilities. But never in this way. Never so coordinated. Never with such a constant and innovative drive. That is what we all have to learn to master.
COMMUNICATION 2.0 will become the
communication approach for the
So what is really NEW in Communications 2.0 ?
that all relevant web 2.0 instruments are used
that they are used in a very coordinated way
that they are used to mobilise lots of people and to activate them
that people are given ownership of the campaign – they feel they are at the centre
that all relevant social networks are actively used in coordination ( Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Bebo, XING, hi5, etc. )
that e-mails and text messages are extensively used to back up
that permanent feed-back, f.ex. via text messages, is ensured giving the leadership an overview of attitudes, attacks and uncertainties in real time
that false information and attacks are addressed immediately via the new instruments – bypassing traditional media, esp. in time
that the campaign is directed by an ever running drive and innovation
that thecampaign makes the traditional media run after it – and not the other way around
How can we best adapt Communications 2.0 to Europe ?
12 concrete ideas
for a successful use in Europe:
a short and clear message
( related to what people consider important, related to their daily life and worries - like
jobs, climate change, personal security
WHAT ? WHO ? HOW ?
well-known and well respected dynamic people
to lead the campaign. Ensure that they have different and conflicting ideas. This will engage and mobilise people
WHO ? WHAT ? WHEN ?
a really dynamic website
– based on all the web 2.0 possibilities. And ensure a very dynamic and very visible and constant promotion of the site. Have a strategy on how to make popular websites link to it – and promote it
HOW ? WHO ? MODEL ?
Work actively with
web companies like Google, Yahoo,
and many others on promoting your site
HOW ? WHO ?
as many of the popular social networks as possible
– coordinated with your own website and campaign. Adapt them as much as possible to national and local situations
WHICH ONES ? WHICH ONES ARE BEST FOR WHAT ? PRIORITIES ?
Mobilise supporters and activists
– and give them
get your timing
HOW ? WHO ? WHEN ?
Make a data base with as many
as possible ( collected according to legal restrictions )
HOW ? WHO ? LEGAL RULES ?
Make a similar data base with as many
mobile phone numbers
as possible ( also collected according to local legislation )
HOW ? WHO ? LEGAL RULES ?
Make a concrete and
operational plan on HOW to use
the e-mails and mobile numbers
WHICH ONES ? WHO ? WHEN ?
Use your web site, the social networks, mobile wap applications and TV ( YouTube ) in a dynamic,
well planned and coordinated way
HOW ? WHO ? WHEN ?
Back all these activities up by
sending e-mails and/or text messages
to your many contacts
HOW ? WHO ? WHEN ?
permanent and operational feedback
– and use the results immediately
HOW ? WHO ? WHO WILL REACT AND REPLY ?
Niels Jørgen Thøgersen