“Cyber Stumping” (Direct, 2/1/08) reported on an interesting activation of viral marketing at Barack Obama’s Columbia, SC December event with Oprah Winfrey. The 30,000 attendees in the football stadium at Obama’s request texted their cell numbers to the campaign to get mobile campaign alerts and then each called four numbers on the back of their tickets to urge them to vote Obama in the primary.
Brian Quinton (the author) lauds this as a way “to data-mine a live event” and get 120,000 campaign calls made on the bills of the attendees. He notes that it enabled the Obama campaign to skirt governmental limits on calls to mobile phones by campaigns.
As effective as this was, one wonders whether they shouldn’t have merged information on where these rally attendees lived with campaign lists of uncommitted voters in their neighborhoods to give them names of neighboring South Carolinians to persuade. Under the theory that friends persuading friends is more effective than strangers persuading friends; that after all is what social capital is all about.
The *Direct* article also talks about campaign effort to make their online presence more interactive and integrated with their offline presence. “[M]ost candidates are using the Internet to spin their speeches and appearances in near-real time. Hillary Clinton introduced the “Fact Hub” rapid-response page of her Web site just in time to defuse a story that her campaign had stiffed a Boone, IA, diner waitress….Both parties also have embraced social networks, Democrats more so than Republicans. By mid-December, Barack Obama had joined every social net from MySpace and Facebook to LinkedIn (for business professionals) and niche sites such as BlackPlanet.com, MiGente.com (for Hispanics), AsianAve.com, GLEE.com (for gays and lesbians) and Faithbase.com (for non-denominational Christians). Last February his campaign also launched its own social net, MyBarackObama.com, to help early supporters find each other and to raise cash.” But Obama is being sophisticated in some ways: “Even before December’s Oprah tour, Obama event attendees were asked to fill out contact information. In the case of the Oprah rallies in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, those phone numbers were added to the candidate’s house list immediately. Attendees got a call from a staffer within 48 hours of the event thanking them for their support and asking for a pledge to vote for Obama in the upcoming primary.”