Politics and marketing have a lot in common. The success of social media marketing has encouraged a lot of politicians to take an interest in social media. Barack Obama in particular has been very quick to adopt social media marketing methods into his campaigns; and showed with his recent appearance on Reddit that he’s always open to new opportunities. Obama’s campaign managers have learned a lot from social media marketing and, now they’ve returned the favor.
Last week, during the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood gave a speech about the ‘invisible Obama’. The majority of that speech was addressed to an empty chair that shared the stage with Eastwood. The speech was designed to damage Obama and boost the chances of Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. With a single tweet, Obama’s campaign ensured the speech did the exact opposite. The tweet? A picture of Obama in a seat marked with his title, ‘The President’, and the words “This seat’s taken.” At the time of writing that tweet has over 54,000 retweets and nearly 22,000 favorites.
This was far more than a witty riposte; it provides a great template for all social media posts.
Timing is Everything
In social media marketing, as in politics, timing is vital. The Obama tweet worked because it was in response to an issue that was already being discussed online and offline. Even while he was speaking, Eastwood’s speech was generating conversation all over the world. The Obama tweet fed into that conversation and turned it in his favor. He had a leg-up because the conversation was already about him. But by getting into the conversation at the right time, he leveraged it in a way most social media marketing executives dream about.
Get to the Point
The first thing that jumps out at you when you read the tweet is just how short it is. It’s three words. No more. The rest of the space is taken up by a link and the image, but they’re in blue so the three-word text really jumps out. It amounts to really clever use of the space and a sharp message made quickly and succinctly.
One of the big challenges in social media marketing is getting your message to stand out. By keeping it short and to the point, the Obama campaign was able to make a simple, interesting and eminently shareable comment.
Show Don’t Tell
The other thing that stands out, obviously, is the image. The image itself is strong but the combination of the image, the text and the context is really powerful. It comes back to simplicity. The image and the short text made the tweet amusing, interesting and easy to understand. If you were to write a paradigm for the most shareable tweet, those three words would be pretty close. These elements, combined with people’s preference for sharing visuals, make posts of this type the Holy Grail for social media marketing.
Link and Convert
One thing that doesn’t jump out when you first look at the tweet is the fact that it’s not just an image and some text, there’s a link there too. The link takes you to a page that invites you to sign up and show you’re support for Obama. The social media marketing equivalent would be a link to a landing page. Not only did the tweet get positive messages flowing about the Obama campaign, it threw in a conversion point for good measure. Social media marketing is all about conversion, and when you consider the 50,000 odd retweets the conversion potential is mind-boggling.
In social media marketing, all it takes is one great idea to generate a huge amount of reaction. The difficult part is finding a way to get that great idea out there. With this tweet, the Obama campaign has provided the ideal template.