President Obama has long been known for his ability to engage the electorate on platforms that have been previously underused by those in the political arena. The president’s social media presence was a major feature of his campaign in 2008. In the four years since he was elected, though, the social media landscape has changed somewhat, thanks largely to the explosion of the mobile internet. When Obama was elected in November of 2008, Apple was on only their second iPhone, the Android platform had only recently made its debut, and the BlackBerry was still the master of the smartphone market.
With Apple and Android constantly jockeying for position in the smartphone market and an increasing amount of web traffic coming from mobile devices – including Apple’s iPad – the kind of social engagement the president brought to bear in his previous campaign requires a very different kind of strategy than it did last time around. With that in mind, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina went on a whirlwind tour of the country, meeting with the CEOs and top executives of a variety of companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others, even spending three hours with Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks.
In an inverview with Bloomberg, Messina says that Steve Jobs gave him advice on how to manage the president’s social media presence. Whereas last time the campaign only had to focus on programming for the web and for email, “this time, you have to program content to a much wider variety of channels – Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Google.” Mobile technology, Jobs told Messina, is crucial to the campaign’s efforts. Four years ago mobile technology was new and exciting but not especially widespread. Now, though, as smartphones are starting to disrupt the feature phone market and the tablet market is exploding, mobile technology is everywhere. In this climate, any successful media campaign must include mobile technology as a major focus.
With the presidential campaign now down to two candidates, we’re about to see just how well Messina absorbed the advice from Jobs, Spielberg, and others. Of course, as long as the president’s campaign manages to employ a decent proofreader, they should have a leg up on the competition.
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