Yes We Did! An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand Paperback – May 20 2009
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"The Obama 2008 campaign is the best marketing campaign I have seen globally in over 25 years. Rahaf gives a fresh and informed insider’s view of what really made it such a spectacular success."
– Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman & CEO OgilvyOne Worldwide
"Rahaf explores in detail the strategies and tactics used to bring about a revolution using social media. I guarantee you will enjoy the book and will learn something from it. But, are you bold enough to do something with your new knowledge?"
– Peter Ac eto, CEO ING Direct CANADA
"A front row seat for a moment that changed both politics and branding forever. In the spirit of sharing that defines the social web itself, Rahaf shows us how principled leadership must go to market in the years ahead: Transparently, authentically, and one community at a time."
– Bruce Philp, CEO of GWP Brand Engineering
About the Author
Rahaf Harfoush is a New Media Strategist who has a deep passion for exploring how technology is affecting the way we communicate, work and play. Rahaf specializes in helping organizations align their Social Media initiatives with their strategic vision to build authentic relationships with consumers, employees and other stakeholders. She was the Research Coordinator for Don Tapscott's bestselling Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, and a contributor to Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. Rahaf blogs at TheFoush.com.
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I think I should preface my comments by saying that I work in the online marketing industry, was impressed by the Obama campaign, and was looking forward to an interesting read highlighting the strategy and tactics behind the revolutionary Obama campaign. I found nothing. I found abysmally little insight. The strategies did not make it past basic direct marketing. The book so completely lacks any details that it reads like a high school "How I spent my summer vacation" essay punctuated with smiley faces and hearts over the i's.
For example, take chapter 13 Analytics and Online Media, this chapter runs 6 pages. The social media section can be summarized "Obama campaign spent a lot with google, we got a 15 to 1 ROI". Though what is ROI here? Donations? Votes? Engagement? Harfoush doesn't say. The equally short analytics section mentions the "campaign embraced a philosophy of constant iteration by using the data they collected to instantly adjust and course correct". Course correct what or how, she never mentions. Results of this iteration she never mentions. Did they improve campaigns X percent? Did they find any voter insight? Did they discover that Ohioans love Nafta related content? We'll never know. To what level or detail they tracked or course corrected she never mentions. She claims that "building flexibility and agility into internal processes" could allow companies to evolve and meet consumer needs despite the fact it runs contrary to their philosophy. In fact, the clients I have worked with in online marketing appear to be vastly more sophisticated than the Obama campaign judging by the examples in this book. This chapter, an interesting and thriving field in direct marketing it even has its own cool conference graphing social patterns, is so shallow I can't imagine a High School English teacher would have found it acceptable.
Another treat, the Text Messaging and Mobile chapter includes these gems as takeaways: "Always let users opt in, Create a conversation, and Engagement to Go". Always let users opt-in, this has been an industry standard for years, and frankly in the mobile space I wouldn't be surprised if non-opt communications are illegal for SMS. It has the same problems fax marketing had 30 years ago, it costs subscribers to receive them! Of course you need to get them to opt in, you're actually going to cost them money not merely inconvenience. Create a conversation, nothing new or novel there. Engagement to Go is summed up like so "With the rise of mobile applications and smartphones, new opportunities will emerge for organizations to provide value-added services for consumers in the real world. With increasingly sophisticated devices being released in the market, mobile technology will play an important role in upcoming political elections". Wow. Incredible insight.
There are many other problems: the layout makes it hard to read, also-ran feeling to the narration, aggrandization of fundamental techniques that companies have been using for years ("The last element of hypersegmentation was donation history" she equates not emailing subscribers who can't donate any more "hypersegmenation", blech), etc. I think I'll just stop here. If you're a marketing professional or work in social media do yourself a favor, and avoid this book like the plague.
The truth of the matter is, Obama would've won easily, even if he'd never heard of Twitter. He had the election in the bag by the time he first appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.
I'm not saying social media isn't important; however, this book's analysis of its relationship in getting Obama elected is of little substance. I can think of a half dozen books that are more relevent on the subject, without using the Obama hype. If you're looking for some 5 star books on the subject, check out Dan Schawbel's Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. Other worthy efforts: Erik Qualman's Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business, Lon Safko's The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success & Brian Solis' Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR.
Other authors who really know what they're talking about with social media include Shel Israel and Clara Shih.
This book is too self-serving to have any real credibility; Harfoush may pass the course, but barely.
Be wary however of some grossly lacking editing (the book is riddled with mistakes, even in some headings). It also degrades into a juvenile high-school-journal-feel in the second half so if time is precious just rip through the first. It's an easy read if you accept the errors.
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