Social Media

2008: Barack Obama embraces the power of social media in election

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By The Drum Team | Staff Writer

March 31, 2016 | 3 min read

To celebrate the Ad Club of New York's 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Mary Crosse, executive producer at production company Derby. Below, find out why Barack Obama’s use of social media in the 2008 presidential election is one of her favorite marketing moments.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Leading up to the 2008 election, Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to embrace the power of social media to build his brand. He went from a relatively political unknown to the elected official by spreading grassroots efforts, pulling the rug from underneath the political establishment. The entire landscape of political campaigning changed through his use of grassroots fundraising, social media expertise and viral sensibilities used to defeat more prominently known candidates.

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The campaign hit during a tipping point of social media and smartphone adoption. Obama used social media to bypass traditional media and connect directly with supporters. He used Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace, Digg, Podcasts, and more (even many niche networks that are now defunct). By utilizing crowdsourcing, Obama captured thousands of supporters to create and distribute additional content. His own website barackobama.com hosted an array of materials that individuals could download and use themselves to spread the message, among other tools to organize supporters and volunteers.

He may have saved well over a hundred million dollars of TV ad buying by using social media to spread his message. And he was the first president to rely on micro-donations of hundreds of thousands of supporters rather than big ticket donations of select high net worth individuals.

See the full 120 Marketing Moments in the dedicated online section and find out how to purchase the exclusive book.

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