Barak Obama is betting that its not what is said but what is seen that matters.
The Obama campaign has chosen Instragram as its preferred battle ground in a fervent bid to secure the youth vote.
Every minute of every day 3600 images are uploaded to Instagram — that’s over five million pictures in any one twenty four-hour period. Indeed, the 2012 presidential candidates have all decided that their preferred way to court younger voters is not by visiting schools, clubs and colleges, but by harnessing the undeniable power of social media.
Obama already knows that young people are far more likely to lend their support to the Democrats, but mobilising the youthful masses and getting them into polling stations has always been a problem. Back in 2008 Team Obama’s ‘Hope & Change’ campaign struck a chord with younger voters and the numbers putting their cross in the box rose significantly, with 66% of the youth vote going to Obama. This year the Democrats are hoping to repeat the success they enjoyed four years ago by using social media to secure the support of the 18–29 demographic.
For All – A Campaign Designed to Engage Young Americans
The President’s latest initiative to procure the youth vote is the ‘For All’ campaign, created to appeal to young people and secure their vote. It aims to highlight “the shared values of the President and young Americans across the country: that if we work together, we can continue to move this country forward.”
The campaign has launched on image sharing site Instagram, with users asked to write a compelling statement on their hands and have a photograph taken with that hand on their heart. This picture should then be uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #forall. The campaign team have also set up a website aimed at the 18–29 age bracket.
Social media commentators agree it’s a cute plan, but historically campaigns launched on social media platforms, while creating a genuine buzz online, fail to produce the goods when it comes to getting people off their sofas and making good on their online support when and where it counts.
Obama Ahead in Social Media Race
For the moment at least, Obama is seeing great returns from his social media and mobile advertising investment and is well ahead of the Romney camp – despite their innovative contact-gathering app Romney-Ryan. Certainly more web-savvy, the President’s online presence has greater support on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, although both campaigns are using targeted social media to allow users to drill down and browse topics by location and issue. It’s long been known that the more you can tailor your messages, the more successful you will be, and this bespoke approach seems to be working – for Obama at least.
The Democrats’ massive team – some 750 to Romney’s miniscule 87 – means that Obama is able to launch a tidal wave of information on a daily basis, regularly out-tweeting and out-blogging Romney, and matching him update-for-update on Facebook. Currently Obama’s Facebook page has 27 million likers, while Romney boasts just two million, although users actively engaging with the pages stand at 640,000 for Obama and 240,000 for Romney, and as a result his digital team remain defiant.
“I give nothing but credit to the Obama folks who run a very successful program with a very large staff that we are always amazed by,“said Zac Moffat, digital director of the Romney campaign. “In size they are clearly ahead, but in terms of engagement… they are not.”
At the moment, Obama is clearly creating the larger social media buzz but there still remains the question of whether generating retweets and likes actually leads to votes.