ISM Episode 28: Blue State Digital’s Sarah Newhall on President Obama’s 2008 Election Campaign & More

 sarah newhall

Blue State Digital’s Sarah Newhall, Executive Vice President and Director of Analytics is my guest this week on The Inside Social Media Podcast, as my journey to connect with the biggest brands in the world and share with you how you can model and adapt their social media insights and strategies continues. 

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Blue State Digital is one of those agencies you likely haven’t heard of but is responsible for several high-profile very successful social media campaigns.

Remember the 2008 presidential election with Senator Obama?  

Yep, Blue State Digital orchestrated that brilliant campaign as well as President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. 

I’ve studied the 2008 election campaign and how Blue State and the team created a movement through the use of social media.  The grassroots campaign educated people about Senator Obama, got people on-board with him and raised money and changed the landscape of how social media is used in creating a movement.  They raised record amounts of money and built a massive community of loyal followers.

It really allowed people to see the power of social media for the first time.

In this episode we’ll go behind-the-scenes of the election campaign and the role social media played while looking at how you can model and apply the same principles and strategies for your own business.

In addition to these Presidential campaigns, Blue State is known for their non-profit fundraising work, while also working with clients like the Green Bay Packers and Lady Gaga.

Community development and fan engagement has been a big focus for them and there are a ton of great lessons we can take away for our own business.

Sarah also shares simple ways to look at measuring your social media campaigns — setting realistic goals that align with your objectives.

In today’s show, you’ll learn:

  • Lessons from the role social media played in the 2008 Senator Obama election campaign
  • Sarah gives tips for how a small business might go about setting realistic metrics of success and then how to measure them
  • Strategies for building stronger relationships with your fans and customers to get them more deeply invested in your business.
  • Best practices for fundraising for a cause while working with a very small budget.
  • And, there’s a ton more strategies, tactics and tips. 

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INSIDER SHOW NOTES: Blue State Digital Social Media Success 

  • Social is about education, awareness, mobilizing people to take action 
  • Digital allows people to feel like you are speaking directly to them. 
  • It moves much faster than news channels.  You can control the story and respond to things quickly.
  • Social media doesn’t exist in a silo.  It’s part of your overall communications/marketing strategy.

On Setting Realistic Social Media Goals and Measuring Success…

  • Establish concrete goals and then start to figure out what your key performance metrics are to achieve those goals.  Then, what will it take to achieve those goals?  How can you use digital media to achieve them?
  • Your goals determine your strategy.
  • Don’t be afraid to shift directions if what you are doing isn’t getting you closer to your goals.
  • What are the actions you want your audience to take?  What does success means to you?
  • Think:  what are you doing on social media right now and what’s working?
  • What is the benefit of someone following you on social media as opposed to them going to your website? What are they going to find that they wouldn’t find otherwise?
  • Look at social media as awareness and growth of audience and content sharing and distribution.

On Creating Content… 

  • Ensure your messaging sounds cohesive across all of your channels.
  • Tumblr is a great platform for humanizing your brand.  People connect with pictures and videos in a way they don’t connect with written content.
  • Social media is really a vehicle to help drive awareness and audience growth and shared content that helps get your message more into that space.  It’s about amplifying.
  • Think about how you make the piece of content you’re putting out stand out from all the other stuff that’s out there.  Catch someone’s attention and ask someone to do something.
  • Always Use your brand’s personality in your social media campaigns

Fundraising Best Practices With Social Media…

  • Fundraising is not really a goal that aligns particularly well with social media.  But, you can leverage social media to drive fundraising when you’ve built relationships and trust.
  • You can use social media, though, to drive people to your website and sign up for your email list.  Then you can communicate with them via email and drive fundraising that way.
  • Focus on social media channels that make the most sense for your organization and audience.
  • Facebook and Twitter are likely going to be effective communication platforms to use.  Pick one or two channels you know you can use well and where your audience is.
  • Keep the messaging consistent with your email communications.
  • Grow your audience in advance of when you need to raise money.
  • Ask your audience to share the content you’re creating with their friends. What action do you want them to take?
  • It’s ok to “post your asks” more regularly than you would with your email campaigns.

On Engaging Your Audience and Building Community…

  • User-generated content is a great way to get a community involved while simultaneously building content to use in different channels.
  • People love to share their content and love for an organization.  That content can be later used in other email or social media campaigns.
  • Host live tweets with fans/customers. It allows you to connect with them on a unique level and gives them inside access to you and your business.
  • Reach out to the community and allow them to provide the content and support for each other.  Create a forum for them to connect with the organization and with one another.  Facebook is a great way to do that!

 

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