What can we learn from the Obama campaign?

When many of us think of a successful political social media campaign, we think of the Obama presidential election.

I met with Matthew McGregor, the former Director of rapid response on Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and here are a few of the key points he raised when I asked him: 

“What are the keys to a successful campaign?”

1. Tell a story

People don’t just want to hear about policies and technical issues, they want to know what it means for them. Shed light on the consequences of public policy and try to bring it down to a personal level. Avoid acronym overload and technical terms that may not mean anything to your audience.

2. Make your content shareable

Ask yourself if your sister or neighbour would share your story. If not, it’s probably not going anywhere. Even if I am an MEP or European Commissioner, I probably won’t want to share a very technical report about the next EU Directive to my friends. But if it’s an interesting video or photo I might, which brings me to my next point…

3. Use great pictures

Good illustrations, videos and infographics get the message across much better than a long article. Photos on Facebook are liked twice as much as text, and 60% of people prefer watching videos over reading text. Think of the most popular tweet ever: “Four more years” by Barack Obama.

Twet by Barack Obama "Four more years"


4. Friends trust friends

Find good stories, articles and opinions and highlight them in your blog or social media platform. This creates a virtuous circle of interesting stories from other people that can be shared through friends and followers.

5. Be personable

Use humility, be authentic and grateful. No one wants to interact with a faceless company or organisation. We are all human after all! If you are tweeting or posting on behalf of your company, you can still sign with your name at the end to add a personal touch.

6. Include a call to action

People want to act! The first thing that you see when you visit barackobama.com is an opportunity to sign up or donate. This is key to give people a chance to participate. If you have a website or blog it’s simple to add a “follow us” or “sign up for our newsletter” button, for example. This will add a measurable outcome for your website and also help increase your followers on twitter or facebook.

For more inspiration here is a short video interview with Matthew McGregor when he was in Brussels for EuroPCom:

Cover photo by History in HD on Unsplash