Elizabeth Poeschl President, Cal Poly PRSSA California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo San Luis

Obispo, CA 93405 Lindsay Holloway Associate Editor Entrepreneur Magazine 2445 McCabe Way, Ste. 400 Irvine, CA 92614 (949) 261-2325

March 18, 2009

Dear Lindsay: Enclosed is a proposal for small businesses to use social media tools to advance their public relations campaigns. The proposal is titled How Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign Will Change Your Small Business. Statistics and data used in the proposal are from multiple credible sources that include case studies by leading public relations agencies and information taken directly from Barack Obama’s website. The combined use of sources help build upon the proposals thesis: In order for businesses’ public relations campaigns to be successful in 2009, they must engage with their audiences online. Thank you for taking the time to review my proposal. I welcome any questions or comments you may have.

Cordially,

Elizabeth Poeschl President, Cal Poly PRSSA 650.218.9022 epoeschl@calpoly.edu www.calpoly.edu/~prssa http://ElizabethPoeschl.wordpress.com

Table of Contents
Table of Figures ............................................................................................................................................ 2 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................... 1 Elements of the Campaign That Worked Well ............................................................................................. 2 Elements of the Campaign Your Business Can Use ..................................................................................... 8 Works Cited ................................................................................................................................................ 12

Table of Figures
Figure 1 ......................................................................................................................................................... 3 Figure 2 (Krempasky) ................................................................................................................................... 6 Figure 3 (BarackObama.com) ....................................................................................................................... 7 Figure 4 (Krempasky) ................................................................................................................................... 9

Poeschl 1 How Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign Will Change Your Small Business Introduction The year 2005 gave rise to the term and practice of sustainability. Businesses and politicians quickly jumped on the sustainable bandwagon, showing that they cared what their customers and constituents believed. Just as sustainability became a household name, so too has social media. According to Wikipedia (which would never be cited normally, but is actually a perfect resource in this instance) “social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” Social media and sustainability may have nothing to do with each other, but like the sustainability trend, social media is reaching heights unforeseen after its climb during the past few years. There are many reasons why social media has become so popular recently, and one of the main reasons can be credited to the Internet population increase worldwide and nationally since 2000. An estimated 6,710,029,070 original users worldwide went online in 2008, a 336.1% increase since 2000 (Internet Usage Statistics: The Internet Big Picture). In the United States – which has a population of 303,824,646 – 220,141,969 people or 72.5% of the general population were internet users (Internet Usage Statistics: The Internet Big Picture). Understanding the increased use of the Internet, businesses, organizations, and politicians took advantage of the online population growth and targeted many of their advertising, marketing, and public relations campaigns toward their Internet audiences. After all, with 72.5% of the American population using the Internet, it was difficult to argue that their primary or secondary audiences were not using it.

Poeschl 2 But, Internet users were using the Internet differently than they had before; they were communicating with people worldwide through various social media outlets that included Facebook, MySpace, and blogs just to name a few. Social media users demanded that businesses, organization, and politicians engage in conversations with them, inevitably increasing the need for public relations. Old forms of Internet advertisements such as the “pop-up” advertisements that were once popular years ago, were no longer popularly used in 2008 once it was discovered that they were ineffective, alienating audiences, and continuously blocked by pop-up blockers. In order to gain customer trust, companies needed to know where their audiences’ conversations were taking place in order to know what was being said about their company. In other words, if customers talked about a company in a blog, the company needed to read that blog and comment on the blog or comment about the blog in the company’s own blog or website. While many companies did a good job communicating with their customers, none utilized social media resources better than President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. By the end of this paper, you will understand how Obama’s campaign can benefit your business.

Elements of the Campaign That Worked Well Obama’s presidential campaign included an intricate combination of social media: social networks on his website as well as involvement with popularly used websites, text messages, emails, RSS feeds, blogs, cellular phone applications, photo and video sharing, widgets, and micro blogs. With social media alone, Obama’s campaign engaged over six million people through 15 social networking websites (Krempasky). Table 1 includes statistics for a few of the top social media tools that were used during the 2008 Obama and McCain presidential campaigns; the information was compiled from various sources (Krempasky) (Owyang) (van Veenendaal and Igor) (Hartman). It is apparent from Table 1 that Obama had considerably more

Poeschl 3 supporters than McCain overall on the Internet. And since an estimated 46% of the American population “used the Internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the 2008 presidential campaign, share their views and mobilize others,” garnering support through the Internet was extremely important (Smith and Rainie). Figure 1 Social Media Platform Facebook Myspace Youtube Barack Obama 2,379,102 supporters
380% more supporters than McCain

John McCain 620,359 supporters 217,811 friends 329 videos uploaded since Feb 2007 28,343 subscribers 2 uploads per day 25,995,773 Channel Views 4,603 followers N/A

833,161 friends
380% more friends than McCain

1,792 videos uploaded since Nov 2006 149,258 subscribers 4 uploads per day 120,479,084 Channel Views

Twitter Text Messages

112,474 followers

1 million subscribers 20 text messages sent per month on average 2 million profiles created MyBO (Barack 35,000 volunteer groups Obama social 400,000 blog posts networking) 13 million email addresses collected Emails

N/A Unreported

The number of supporters on a social media website is important, but the number of active supporters is even more important. Active supporters help to spread the word by passing along viral videos, uploading their own videos, bookmarking Obama’s website through social bookmarking, and writing blog posts just to name a few actions of active supporters. Obama’s supporters were active. According to a study conducted by Edelman, a leading public relations agency, Obama supporters uploaded 442,000 user-generated videos on YouTube, which were nearly four times more user-generated videos than McCain videos were uploaded (Krempasky).

Poeschl 4 On del.icio.us, a social bookmarking website, (a website that enables users to upload and share url bookmarks) 232,587 bookmarked websites tagged Obama, whereas only 72,931 bookmarked websites tagged McCain (Krempasky). Obama was also successful with generating support through micro-blogging, “a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates [typically 140 characters or fewer] or micromedia such as photos or audio clips,” (Micro-blogging). The most popular micro-blogging website is Twitter (Micro-blogging), which was started in March 2006 and although an exact number of registered users is not officially reported by twitter, there were an estimated 3.5 million users in November 2008 (there are currently an estimated 6 million users) (Twitter Site Analytics Unique Visitors). Of the one million users, Obama had 112,474 people following his account compared to McCain’s 4,603 followers (Owyang). Obama’s 112,474 followers were able to reach millions. Say one of his followers has 200 of their own followers. When an Obama follower “tweets” (twitter lingo for writing a status update) a link to Obama’s website, his or her 200 followers will see that tweet and possibly click on the link to go to Obama’s website. A few of the followers may even “re-tweet” (or re-send) the message to their followers and so on. A good example of twitter’s fast and broad reach is the twitter news that was generated about the US Airways plane crash in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. The first public news about the event was submitted by Janis Krums or @jkrums who uploaded a twitpic from his iPhone and this message, “There’s a plane crash in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up people. Crazy.” Krums became an instant celebrity and “Thirty-four minutes after Janis posted his photo, MSNBC interviewed him live on TV as a witness,” (Frommer).

Poeschl 5 Twitter was an important element of Obama’s social media campaign, but another important and essential element was Obama’s use of Facebook. With approximately 175,000,000 active Facebook users who are primarily between the ages of 18 and 34, building a strong presence on Facebook is essential to any business’ public relations plan or political campaign (Facebook Advertising). Facebook had the largest numbers of supporters for either candidate on any other website. At the time of the election, McCain had 613,515 Facebook supporters and Obama had 3,150,000 Facebook supporters, approximately 380% more supporters than McCain (Hartman). Because Obama knew how important Facebook was for his campaign, he hired Chris Hughes (24), the co-founder of Facebook to develop the social networking aspect of his campaign (Stelter). Hiring Hughes, a 24-year-old man whose background was in computer science and not in politics was a big leap for Obama, but one that he felt confident in making. “One of my fundamental beliefs from my days as a community organizer is that real change comes from the bottom up,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “And there’s no more powerful tool for grass-roots organizing than the Internet,” (Stelter). Since the 2008 presidential campaigns, people have followed Obama’s advice and have used the Internet, and more specifically Facebook, for grassroots campaigning. Nick Shalosky, a 21-year-old student at the College of Charleston and the first openly-gay elected official in South Carolina gives credit to his Facebook campaign for winning a seat on the Charleston County District 20 Constituent School Board (Shalosky). “I've found a practical use for Facebook. It got me elected,” said Shalosky “My political science professor was quoted in our local paper as saying that my model of organizing was ‘an indication of the direction of future campaigns’” (Shalosky).

Poeschl 6 Obama’s campaign took the use of Facebook and social networking one step further, by creating a social networking site on BarackObama.com called My Barack Obama, or MyBO. My MyBO allowed “users to join groups, connect with other users, plan events, raise money, write own blogs and volunteer,” (van Veenendaal and Igor). All of the tools that made up MyBO were elements of traditional grassroots campaigning, but in a new form. Obama supporters could help Obama from the comfort of their computers. No longer were phone banks necessary (although there were still many Obama phone banks) since all of the information for making supportive phone calls was online. To to the “Make Calls” webpage in your MyBO account, click the “make call” button, and a list of instructions popped up on your screen, even a script that allowed you to easily fill in the callers’ answers online (van Veenedaal and Igor). Figure 2 (Krempasky)

MyBO also included a social medium element that was essential in 2008: an iPhone application. The iPhone application allowed supporters to stay connected around the clock, receiving updates, blogging, and making supportive phone calls all from their iPhone.

Poeschl 7 Figure 3 (BarackObama.com)

The results of MyBO were astounding: 2 million profiles were created; 200,000 offline events were planned; 400,000 blog posts were written; and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created (van Veenedaal and Igor). But, MyBO was only successful because it was not Obama’s only use of social networking. Obama was active on the social networking websites that his constituent’s used, showing that he was interested in and willing to participate in their home field. After presenting himself and building a following on already established social

Poeschl 8 networks, Obama was then able to create MyBO and drive traffic to it from the already established social networks.

Elements of the Campaign Your Business Can Use While the social media campaign worked well for Obama, you may be wondering whether or not it will work for you and your business. Undoubtedly, the first thing that comes to mind after reading about Obama’s social media campaign is money. You may be thinking that all of the social media that Obama was engaged in must have been expensive, but it wasn’t. In fact, Obama only spent less than 2% of his campaign funds on the Internet, which was less than what McCain spent on the Internet aspect of his campaign (Hartman); and Nick Shalosky, the South Carolina public official, spent nothing on his grassroots campaign. According to the case study, Obamanomics, “McCain actually outspent Obama in online Paid Search by 22 to 1” (Hartman)! However, BarackObama.com attracted millions of more people on average per month than JohnMcCain.com attracted (Steaprok). So if McCain outspent Obama with his online campaign, why did Obama have more traffic on his website? The answer is Obama generated traffic to his website from free social media websites, and once there, visitors stayed and clicked around because there was a lot to see. BarackObama.com kept the interest of its visitors through MyBO, widgets, videos, and many other interactive tools. McCain’s failure on the Internet was his lack of social media attention. In other words, McCain’s traditional campaign did not take time to personally reach out to and engage with McCain’s constituents Online. Social media are conversations that take place with anywhere from two people to millions, but you cannot expect to have people participate in a conversation that you start if you do not participate in the already existing conversations. And because 72.5%

Poeschl 9 of the American population used the Internet in 2008, McCain made a big mistake by not participating in already existing conversations and generating more online support. Although the online campaign was inexpensive, it was time consuming. For a business your size, you probably cannot afford to devote the time or the resources to social media campaigning, and you shouldn’t have to. Keep in mind that Obama’s audience was 303,824,646 people, or every single American of voting age. Your campaign on the other hand will most likely be much smaller. But, before you start joining every social network or blogging on every single forum, you should stop and figure out who are your primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. If you need help with this first step, I suggest reading The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott. After you discover who your audiences are, the process of engaging with them is slow. When it comes to establishing your business online, The Social Pulpit case study suggests four stages: crawl, walk, run, and fly (Krempasky). The following stages were created loosely based off of the previously suggested steps. Figure 4 (Krempasky)

Poeschl 10 Once you know who you top three audiences are, the second stage is to get to know them: know where they congregate, know what they say about you or your company (if they are even talking about you), and know how they interact with each other. Why is it important to understand your audiences before engaging with them? Let us use an offline example. You are talking with a friend at a dinner party about your favorite topic: politics, when a second friend enters the conversation midway. “I agree that Clinton’s healthcare plan is great,” you say, “but her knowledge of foreign affairs is subpar.” Your friend who entered the conversation says, “I can’t believe Hilary stayed with Bill. What was she thinking?” While your friend did not realize it at the time, that comment completely stopped your original conversation and probably frustrated you a little. The same goes with social media. The conversations that are taking place online have the same societal rules as conversations that take place offline. You cannot engage in a conversation if you do not understand the topic or if you do not know what is being said during a specific conversation. After you get to know your audiences, the third stage is to identify a manageable list of the top websites, social media, or social networks where they congregate. You may find that you only have the time and resources to manage one account, which is fine. However, you may discover that you can manage ten accounts. However many accounts and profiles you create, you need to remember to keep fully updated on all of your accounts. If you do not stay updated, then drop that account and focus on the ones that are manageable for you. The fourth stage is to slowly wade your way into your audiences’ conversations. Over time, you will get to know your audiences better, and they will get to know you. Your audiences will talk to their friends about your conversations and soon you will be talking directly with their

Poeschl 11 friends. The fifth and final stage is to completely jump into your audiences spaces and by this point, you can probably even begin conversation on your home field, your website or blog. So although you will most likely not be able to have a public relations plan for your company that is exactly the same as Obama’s campaign, you can use elements of his campaign for your own public relations plan that will give you proportionately successful results. While 2007 was the year of sustainability, 2009 is the year of social media. In order to have the most successful business that you can in 2009, you must be engaged with your audiences online.

Poeschl 12

Works Cited Arrington, Michael. "End Of Speculation: The Real Twitter Usage Numbers." 29 April 2008. TechCrunch. 4 March 2009 <http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/29/end-of-speculationthe-real-twitter-usage-numbers/>. "Facebook Advertising." No Date. Facebook. 4 March 2009 <http://www.facebook.com/advertising/?src=pf>. Frommer, Dan. "U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work." 15 January 2009. The Business Insider. 24 February 2009 <http://www.businessinsider.com/2009/1/us-airways-crash-rescue-picture-citizenjouralism-twitter-at-work>. Hartman, Jalali. "Obamanomics: A Study in Social Velocity." 3 November 2008. Yovia. 24 February 2009 <http://www.yovia.com/Obamanomics.pdf>. "Internet Usage Statistics: The Internet Big Picture ." 1 December 2008. Internet World Stats: Usage and Population Statistics. 25 February 2009 <http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm>. Krempasky, Michael. "The Social Pulpit: Barack Obama's Social Media Toolkit." Unknown 2009. Edelman Public Relations. 12 February 2009 <http://www.edelman.com/image/insights/content/Social%20Pulpit%20%20Barack%20Obamas%20Social%20Media%20Toolkit%201.09.pdf>.

Poeschl 13 "Micro-blogging." 4 March 2009. Wikipedia. 4 March 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microblogging>. Shalosky, Nick. "Facebook Got Me Elected: How the New Media Helped Make Me the the First Openly-Gay Official in South Carolina." 18 February 2009. The Bilerico Project: Daily Experiments in LGBTQ. 18 February 2009 <http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/facebook_got_me_elected_how_the_new_medi.php>. Steaprok. "Barack Obama & John Mccain: A 2008 Presidential Election Search and Social Marketing Analysis." 3 November 2008. Subliminal Pixels. 4 March 2009 <http://www.subliminalpixels.com/2008/11/03/barack-obama-john-mccain-2008presidential-election-search-social-marketing-analysis/>. Stelter, Brian. "The Facebooker Who Friended Obama." 7 July 2008. New York Times . 4 March 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/technology/07hughes.html>. "Twitter Site Analytics Unique Visitors." Compete. <http://siteanalytics.compete.com/twitter.com/>. van Veenendaal, Paul and Beuker Igor. "Case Study: The Barack Obama Strategy." 29 January 2009. Slideshare. 10 February 2009 <http://www.slideshare.net/socialmedia8/case-studythe-barack-obama-strategy?type=powerpoint>.