Obama’s Social Media Campaign Analysis

Over the resent years, the number of people and organizations exploiting social media marketing potential has increased exponentially. Many people have used Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Google plus and YouTube to successfully create awareness, market and sell various products and services (Aaker& Smith, 2010). Yetthere is still a great knowledge gap on how to leverage social technology to successfullyproduce social good. Social good is believed to be a product, either service or goods, that benefit the greatest number of individuals in the largest conceivable way(Bimber, 2014). Contrary to the popular misconception, asuccessful social media campaign isfounded on the psychology of individual’s social behaviors and not on the current technology.

The Dragonfly Effect byJennifer Aaker and Andy Smith is a book that was published in 2010 that concentrates on how social media has the supremacy to make significant difference. It emphasizes on the behavioral mechanisms that influence the level of impact a social media campaign has on its audience. The Dragonfly Effect Model is founded on four wings that dictate the efficacy of any social campaign. The wings are Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action. Just like a dragon, a social media campaign moves at the intended speed anddirectionality only when the four wings are in harmony (Aaker& Smith, 2010).


In 2008, president Barak Obama’s Presidential campaign was a historic event not only because he was the first African American to ever win presidential elections but also because he was the first presidential candidate who had ever used social media as his main campaign strategy successfully (Van Aelst, Van Erkel, D’heer, & Harder, 2014). In 2008, this social media, although prevalent, it was not as ubiquitous as it is today. When Obama commenced his campaign in 2007, twitter was just gaining popularity and thus distributing voting mementos via Twitter and networking with supporters on Facebook was a bold move that left a lasting impression (Van Aelst, e.t. al., 2014).

During his second campaign in 2012, social media platforms had advanced drastically and the number of adult Americans on social media had grown to from 37% in 2008 to about 69% (Van Aelst, e.t. al., 2014).  In 2012 there were speculations that social media would have a similar impact on presidential election as it had in 2008 so other candidates also tried to harness social media technologies as well. However, Obama had an edge since his teamhad the expertise from previous experience and he also had already established social media following.  Social media predominated by relationships hence having an already existing social media system was a noteworthy benefit over Romney’s campaign that was just starting out on social media (Bimber, 2014). In the end, Obama’s campaign dominated the social media in 2012 just like it did in 2008.

The Dragon Effect model presents four key ideas presented for a successful social media campaign, all of which the Obama campaign had. The ideas include: formulating and communicating a clear message and vision; defining a digital landscape; building relationships; and having clear calls to action(Aaker& Smith, 2010).

Formulate and communicate a clear message and vision. In this aspect, Obama’s campaign focused on Hope, Change, and Action.

Define a digital landscape.  Obama’s social media campaign strategy was built on knowing the most influential bloggers, exploiting the main communication hubs, and having presence in the leading social networks.

Build relationships. The campaign team focused on three key actions, which were listen, be inventive, and ask questions.

Clear calls to action. Every action conducted during the social media campaign was geared towards getting an offline activity, getting people to vote.

Measuring the effectiveness of a social media campaign can be problematic since there is no standard gauge for measuring effectiveness. The number of posts or tweets does not determine the success of the campaign; user engagement does, usually indicated by the content sharing. For instance, Obama’s social media campaign can be said to have been more successful than Romney’s since it recorded twice as many Facebook “Likes” than Romney’s page and his twitter page logged approximately 20 times more re-tweets than Romney’s page (Van Aelst, e.t. al., 2014).  This can be attributed to having an already existing fan base but also on sharing followers’ friendly content.

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