Barack Obama, Part 1: #bestsocialmediacampaignever

23 Oct

One of the main reasons I’m researching social media activism is the 2012 presidential race. There is no question that Barack Obama blew open the social media world in 2008. I can’t wait to see how he outdoes himself for this election and how his competition adapts to the new playing field.

Therefore, this post is the first of two posts about Obama’s use of social media. Today I’ll focus on his campaigning, next week I’ll focus on how he uses social media from the White House.


This shirt, released for donors in the 2012 campaign, pretty much sums up what I have to say. As of right now (according to, Obama has 23.7 million Facebook friends and 10 million people receive Tweets from his Twitter, @BarackObama.

Obama uses both platforms to share stories and pertinent info about current politics, news from the White House, and campaign progress. More importantly, in my opinion, Obama holds relatively frequent Twitter Town Hall sessions where anyone can Tweet questions and get them answered by Obama himself (his personal tweets are signed –BO, everything else is done by his campaign team). These sessions also occur on LinkedIn and occasionally Facebook. How much more voter-friendly and accessible can you get?

Obviously, Obama’s first social media campaign was a success. Here is a compilation of statistics regarding social media use in the 2008 campaign. Some highlights? Obama had 380% more Facebook followers than John McCain, and his Twitter was 240 times more popular.

Campaign financing in 2008 was unique because Obama raised a tremendous amount of money from small donors who donated online. In addition to making small donations, millions of people tagged themselves in Obama’s “Hope” campaign picture on Facebook. This means that Obama not only piqued the interest of potential voters, his social media messages inspired them to leave the virtual world and monetarily commit to his campaign. That’s a big step in a place where simply clicking “like” is considered significant.

Iconic Online Hope

The Obama 2012 campaign machine has already started fundraising and increasing their presence on social media sites. I don’t think the 2012 social media campaign can be explained without examining the foundation laid by @thewhitehouse, however, so next week’s post will examine Obama’s use of social media as the president.


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