Nothing intrigues me more than watching traditional marketing folks begin to test out social media and new technologies.
Over the last year, we’ve watched the Presidential candidates challenge time-honored campaign fundraising tactics and information distribution by taking their show to the Web. Social media and networking components have been wildly expanding and seemingly, now essential, to the candidates’ successes.
Barack Obama is no stranger to the new technologies bandwagon. He has successfully managed to reach the broadest audience through numerous social networks, YouTube videos, widgets, banners, wallpaper and even ringtones.
A few weeks ago, Obama’s campaign decided to give yet another new technology –text messaging — a whirl. His “Here’s My VP” political text message was intended to reach 2.9 million people. By many accounts, it was the single largest mobile marketing event in the United States and the first mass-scale effective usage of political text messaging.
Or was it?
While Obama’s first political text messaging campaign was nothing less than an uber-powerful memorandum to the McCain camp that he’s got technology on his side and he’s not afraid to use it, the campaign itself in essence, was a failure.
Besides the fact, that the political text message was sent out at 3:00am EDT – a time in which most folks are asleep, it has been indicated by many news agencies that approximately 40-50% of the messages were received late or not at all.
Moreover, there are upwards of 170+ million registered voters, 70+ million of them are registered Democrats, 55+ million are registered Republicans and the other 40+ million are registered as independents. T o me, sending out a political text message to less than 2% of the registered voters, is an exercise in futility, if you’re trying to generate buzz.
In my opinion, smart politics, combined with smart marketing, would have been a better tactical maneuver in this situation. It would have made more sense that Obama’s campaign would have worked with a company like SMSPolitical.com to leverage their campaign database and political text messaging service to get this cutting-edge message out to all the potential voters out there. SMSPolitical.com boasts cell phone numbers for over 19+ million registered Democrats and over 84+ million total voters. Talk about mass-scale communication to the most coveted form of contact!
Today, Obama once again, used text messaging to his advantage. While the Republicans were asleep at the wheel once more, Obama used political text messaging and email to raise donations for Hurricane Aid to help the Gulf Coast get through Hurricane Gustav.
It will be interesting to see if the McCain camp and other political interest groups latch on to this technology and begin to experiment with text message campaigns themselves. Hopefully they will be smarter and work with a company that actually knows how to get the messages through and most importantly, knows not to send them in the middle of the night ;-p