Who designed the 2012 Obama campaign website

Barack Obama wins the online election campaign: 2012 set new standards

November 8, 2012

Image: Rafal Olechowski - Shutterstock

What we can all learn from the US election

From Kerstin Plehwe

With regard to the development of new techniques and methods, the election campaigns in the USA have always been a model for communication experts worldwide. In the current presidential election campaign, all eyes are therefore again on the campaigns of President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. It can be seen that the Internet has continued to gain in importance, but that it is developing its potential particularly in the networking of online and offline elements. The last US presidential election in 2008 set new standards for sustainable and innovative campaign work. Barack Obama mobilized over ten million volunteers, revolutionized fundraising with a consistent small donor strategy, registered 80 to 100 million YouTube views daily and built up his own Internet community with the online platform MyBarackObama.com with over XX million members. Through the use of the Internet, a realistic and dialogue-oriented election campaign could be implemented under the motto “The more personal, the better”.

New instruments - increased dialogue orientation?

Four years have passed since the last election campaign, and some online-based applications have developed rapidly. With the various innovations in the online world, the tools that can be used by campaigners from both parties have also changed. While SMS was still a widely used innovation in the last election campaign, it was almost completely replaced in this election campaign by Facebook and the microblogging service Twitter. In an interview with the NY Times, Barack Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, emphasized the rapid development and increased importance of both online tools compared to the 2008 presidential campaign: “Twitter didn't even exist until the middle of the election campaign. Today it is one of the most important tools. Facebook was a tenth the size of today and was mainly used by young people who wanted to network. Today the 50 plus generation is the fastest growing group there. ”With these new tools, both candidates had considerable mobilization machines at their disposal in the current election campaign. Romney currently has 1.2 million Twitter followers and 8.1 million Facebook fans. In doing so, however, he is overshadowed by incumbent Obama, who can reach over 20 million Twitter followers and 29 million Facebook fans with his messages. With regard to use, however, the individual online applications must be viewed differently. Although Twitter is an important tool in the exchange between politicians and media professionals, it is of less importance for addressing the average voter. The campaign strategists also do not primarily use social networks to approach new voters, but rather to network and motivate active supporters and to influence the networks of their own followers via the viral functions of social media.

Access to the pockets of the supporters

The increased importance of the Internet in election campaigns is also made clear by a study by the renowned American polling institute Pew Research. This means that the current election campaign will be decided on "four screens": television, PCs but also - and this is new - tablets and smartphones. The sale of tablets is increasing rapidly, especially in the USA; In addition, 90 percent of all tablet users access the online editions of news magazines or use their mobile device to find out about the latest political and social developments. Mobile devices also represent an additional channel for access to video platforms such as YouTube, and this also increases the number of those voters who do not traditionally know the election campaign spots of the two candidates from television but only from the Internet. In addition to the applications, the hardware has also developed further. The most important innovations here are the tablets and smartphones already mentioned, which in turn lead to innovations in software applications. True to the motto the “stationary” Internet was yesterday and the “mobile” Internet is today, voters and supporters were able to keep themselves up to date with the current election campaign using an app. In addition to news ticker functions, these offer opportunities to network with supporters from the area or to make donations online. This means that the campaigners can literally reach into the pockets of their supporters. The apps also replace technological innovations from the last election campaign. While Barack Obama informed his supporters about the election of his vice-presidential candidate before the press in 2008, Romney used the app "Who will be Mitt’s VP?" And used it to inform his supporters early on about developments in the selection of his vice-presidential candidate.

Connection online-offline

As important as the various online channels are for addressing and mobilizing voters, it is only through their cross-media use that they become successful instruments in the election campaign. Because the particular value of online communication lies in the possibility of addressing supporters online and thus activating offline activities. President Obama can fall back on his grassroots movement “Obama for America”, which he built up in the last election campaign, with the help of which he built up a distribution list of over ten million e-mail addresses, and thus potential supporters. As in the last election campaign, the company's own supporters were mobilized to participate in the campaign via e-mail, intranet pages or, more recently, apps. The members of the "online network" then become supporters in the offline world, in which they get involved in election campaign offices, carry out telephone campaigns or voter registrations from home, become active in street election campaigns or advertise their candidates in their personal environment. In addition to motivating and rewarding supporters in the online world, for example through access to exclusive information from the campaign, online supporters were also rewarded offline for their commitment, for example through a dinner with the candidates or access to exclusive fundraising events. In the end, there is the realization that the online election campaign in 2012 has gained further importance due to the technical advancement, but that its greatest advantages are not in the addressing of new voters, but in the maintenance of contacts and in the networking of their own supporters, who are so responsible for Offline activities are gained and motivated. In the end, personal contact with the campaign helper at the front door or recommendations from friends and acquaintances are still decisive for the voting decision, and not the e-mail in the inbox. Regardless of who wins the race for the White House, the Internet, with its technical advances and the unique opportunities to enter into dialogue with your own supporters, is already one of the winners of the election.

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