The Obama Effect – Online Marketing

Posted by on January 24, 2009 in Social Media

I’m sure everyone by now knows what an effect the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, has had across the globe. The “Yes We Can” attitude and his amazing ability to give hope and positivity to all those through his speeches had not been the only impact he has had on the world so far.

The online industry saw politicians enter the online realm with the race for presidency, starting with YouTube last year. But that was just the start, from MySpace and Facebook, Paid Search and Viral, right through to Twitter, Obama embraced the power of the online community to spread his message in one of the most successful online marketing campaigns i have yet seen.

With the current global recession, businesses are looking for the most cost effective way for increasing sales, the focus has moved away from traditional media to online. Paid search is a highly competitive arena where business with deep pockets can afford to compete. Search Engine Marketing offers a more cost effective strategy compared to Paid Search, however the results are long term. Businesses are realising that social media marketing is an effective marketing strategy that practically costs nothing. The effects can be seen, with Hitwise UK reporting an astounding traffic increase of 974% for Twitter from Jan 2008 to Jan 2009.

South Africa has starting seeing the effect, with our own politicians following suite, Paid Search ads from the DA, ANC on Twitter & YouTube, including COPE on twitter as well.

DA Paid Search Ads

However, the South African political approach to the use of these influencial platforms seems very haphazard and thrown together without a much needed strategy? What shocked me was the COPE feed, reading questions about what platforms to use for social media, the best PHP forum software and not mention a tweet response to the appeal ruling. It came across very unprofessional IMHO. The choice of names for the accounts did not help with the branding side either (comparing the use and approach to the Obama campaign).

Facebook has a large South African presence, which can easily been seen using the Google Insights Tool, and is rated within the top 10 countries with the highest increase over time. As of today, Helen Zille leads Jacob Zuma with 6200 to 2539 supporters on FaceBook, obviously nothing compared to the supporters over the 4 million mark for Obama.


Social Media Marketing has been seen to deliver results, the best case study is Barack Obama , however any business should not forget that there needs to be a strategy in place to see it forward. Without the knowledge and understanding of these platforms backed by a strategy, they will be ineffective to say the least. As South African’s we should not be simply following the pack, but understand and improve.

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