Obama! The First Internet/Social Media President


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Barack Obama has won the 2008 election and in the process made history as the first African American to be elected to the presidency of the United States. The reaction to his victory was unprecendented as Americans, and people all over the world poured out into the streets in spontaneous celebrations of his victory.

Obama’s victory can be attributed to his campaign which was incredibly organized and utilized the power of the Internet more effectively than any other campaign. Sara Lai Stirland of Wired.com wrote:

“The Obama campaign has been building, tweaking and tinkering with its technology and organizational infrastructure since it kicked off in February 2007, and today has most sophisticated organizing apparatus of any presidential campaign in history.”

Obama’s campaign utilized the Internet and social media tools to fuel their organization appeal to young people and galvanize their support. They were able to successfully integrate good, old-fashioned field organizing with the effecgtive use of technology to engage with the electorate.

The use of technology such as text mesaging to announce his VP pick, and that huge electronic map of the U.S. at the DNC that lit up as people sent text messages to their friends around the country. They partnered with Facebook, allowing users to organize their friends and feed that data back into the campaign. From very intimate and innovative uses of email communication Twitter, Youtube videos along with the traditional GOTV activities such as phone banking and door knocking all worked together to ensure success. The Obama campaign was able to successfully translate the online participation and enthusiasm into inspiring supporters to take action and do actual work on behalf of their candidate.

The Obama campaign machine used a bottom up approach to encourage supporters to invest their time and energy into this campaign and doing their part to get their voices heard and to support a candidate that supports the ideas and ideals that they stand for.

Obama’s challenge is to now find a way to utilize all of this energy and enthusiasm and engagement of the newly minted young voters. These people feel empowered that their vote in their first presidential election was so historic and ushered in such a tremendous potential for change in this country. They must continue to use these social media/ networking tools to keep the electorate engaged and feeling as if their input and ideas matter and can be translated into real and lasting changes in our society and in our world.

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