What App Marketers Can Learn From the Obama Campaign

In a panel at Digital Book World in New York this morning, Teddy Goff, digital director of Obama for America, revealed how his team worked to help the president win the 2012 election. Here are some tips that we picked up from the presentation that app marketers and publishers should be thinking about.

1. Don’t be lame. Goff admitted that this is hard to do since politics and marketing are both lame, but as he pointed out, “Changing the country is not. And books are not.” Goff got 1.5 million people to read a blog post about tax policy, by creating a website called Romneytaxplan.com that looked like a site for Mitt Romney, but when you tried to click on Romney’s tax plan, the icon danced away. After a few tries, the banner linked to a blog post from the Obama campaign on their views on the flaws in Romney’s tax plan. As Goof pointing out, this is much more inspiring than a press release or a white paper. “It was designed to inform but also to inspire and to inspire sharing,” he said.

2. Mobilize your fans. Barack Obama has many mutual friends on Facebook. The Obama campaign took citizen data and mapped it over Facebook data to identify who on Facebook was still undecided and who hadn’t registered to vote. Then if one of Barack Obama’s friends engaged with some campaign content, they were met with a message to share the content with 10 friends of theirs who weren’t registered to vote or who were undecided. The idea was that friends are much more influential than organizations to engage in discussions.

3. Define your business goals and stick to them. The goal of Obama campaign was not about getting the most Facebook likes, Twitter followers or app downloads, the goal was to engage citizens, recruit volunteers, fund raise and encourage voting. When creating a digital marketing plan, don’t forget to set specific goals and not get sidetracked by likes and retweets.

4. Be willing to connect on a one-on-one basis with customers. During the campaign, Obama had dinner with $3 and $5 contributors to show that he didn’t just dine with lobbyists. He also participated in an “Ask me anything chat” on Reddit to connect directly with citizens online.

5. As technologies rise, people’s expectations rise. Because of this, it is important to stay abreast of how your cusomters are using technology and try to keep up because institutions that don’t risk bad associations. This is not just about having social media or spending money on online advertising. Companies should also think about who they hire and how they market. “It is a challenge and an opportunity,” explained Goff.