Last Saturday, the Obama campaign posted its 1,000th video to YouTube - a speech clip from the Senator's closing arguments in Indianapolis, Indiana. 1,000 videos... that's a lot of videos. It's nearly double the number that Senators Clinton and McCain have posted to the site - combined. And it demonstrates just how integral of a role video has played in the Obama campaign strategy this election.
The Obama campaign has been using video since the beginning of the You Choose '08 program - but they've hit a fever pitch in the last 5 months. A dozen of their videos have over half a million views, and they're now posting at a rate of about 2-3 videos a day channel. That means that for almost any to their YouTubeYouTube search on Obama's campaign, you're going to find at least some piece of official video from the campaign's channel. For a candidate who started out with a name recognition problem and a desire to reach new pockets of voters, online video has helped Obama develop his character and inspire new voters in some interesting ways.
Here are 5 way in which the campaign has effectively used YouTube so far:
- Translating the fervor of the campaign trail to the Internet. Clips from campaign rallies with scores of adoring fans have helped translate the excitement of the campaign to the Internet. You don't have to be in Iowa or New Hampshire to be fired up and ready to go - just watch the speech on the Obama YouTube channel.
- Getting ahead of the media. You may know that Obama's speech on race is the #1 most-viewed video uploaded by a presidential candidate in YouTube history - currently the video has 4.4 million views. But he actually posted a response to the Wright controversy 4 days earlier, floating his message online before hitting primetime. This allowed the campaign to address the conflict without having to lean on the media first. And because of YouTube's feedback system (comments, rankings, etc.) candidates like Obama can use the site to test messaging and ideas before taking them to a broader stage.
- Targeting geographies. Early on, the campaign made playlists of videos focusing on different groups in a series called, "From the Trail." They had playlists from Iowa, New Hampshire... even a playlist on "Women for Obama" - developing communities around content aimed at particular demographics.
- Inspiring supporters to post their own videos. From 'Vote Different' to 'Yes We Can 'to 'Obama Girl' to 'The Empire Strikes Back' to the thousands of other voter-generated clips posted in support of Obama this campaign season, the campaign has benefited from a huge swell of support outside the traditional campaign. By engaging on YouTube they've shown they understand the medium and can connect with people where they are - which inspires others to reach back and connect, too. Case in point - youbama.com, or the "Obama in 30 seconds" contest over at moveon.org.
- Talking directly with voters. Obama's You Choose '08 Spotlight video began a conversation with voters around community service. His 'have dinner with Barack Obama' program used YouTube to reach supporters who wanted to share a meal with the Senator. And Obama also took YouTube questions in an interview we did with the Senator in Mtn. View. By using YouTube as way to have a conversation with voters, the campaign leverages one of the most important political features of online video - interactivity.