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The 2008 presidential election was the first political campaign to leverage the power of Social Media. Barack Obama’s campaign used 15 different social networks. He had over 50 million views of his YouTube channel and over 2.5 million Facebook followers. His success wasn’t just about putting up a Facebook Page or adding a few tweets. He and his team were able to connect with real people in real time and give them an easy way to show their support. Social Media connected people to Obama as a real person and made people feel that they knew him. This fired up his base in a way that had never happened before.

We are now in the throes of the 2016 presidential campaign, and all of the candidates have embraced Social Media (to varying degrees of success). When Bernie Sanders tweets during the Republican debate, his tweets are retweeted thousands of times. The next day, he is mentioned on the news almost as much as some of the debaters. When Donald Trump goes on a late night rampage on Twitter, it shows up on the pages of millions of his followers, and is a “page 1” news story the next day.

What Does this Mean to Business?

The truth is that all political campaigns are about marketing. The candidate is the brand – they even have logos and taglines! Social Media gives them and their teams the opportunity to tell their stories. The difference is that their success is not measured in sales, but in votes.

Business owners should take a page from recent campaigns and begin to leverage the power of Social Media to win satisfied customers. Here are a few ways President Obama did this in 2008 and 2012, with some suggestions for business owners:

  1. Present a focused message. In 2008, Obama focused on the words “Hope and Change” in 2012 it was “Forward.”

A business-oriented message might not be a simple slogan, but should give your audience an idea of who you are and what you stand for.

  1. Decide how your product fits into the digital landscape. Obama used 15 different social networks in 2008. But he had a very big team and was trying to reach everyone in the country.

You may not need 15 platforms, but It is important to understand how to reach your target audience. Older folks may be on Facebook and Twitter, but younger audiences might be on Snapchat, Instagram and Periscope. Remember to stay current. New platforms emerge and older ones recede. (Remember MySpace?)

  1. Be Authentic. While President Obama did tweet and post to social networks himself, we know that not every tweet and Facebook post came directly from him. Because his team understood their candidate, had a focused message, and understood how to use various social platforms, they were able to speak in “one voice,” and that resonated with his followers.

Most business owners have little time to sit on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, let alone the time to produce YouTube videos. Having a dedicated team that understands your company, knows how to use Social Media to market it, and can speak in a “voice” that captures the essence of your company will assure marketing success.

  1. Build Relationships. Obama’s team not only posted to social sites, they also “listened” to what others were saying there. This gave them a chance to understand his audience and engage them on a more personal level. They also asked and answered questions and kept the conversation alive.

Monitoring social sites has become almost as important as posting. Having someone that understands “social listening” and can respond quickly is important. By listening to customers, you may find ways to improve your business and increase sales.

  1. Have a clear Call to Action. Everything President Obama did during his campaign was aimed at getting people out to vote.

For businesses, a Call to Action could mean asking people to make a step towards a purchase – or to make the purchase immediately. The important thing is to make it clear to people what you would like them to do, and give them an easy way to do it.

As the 2016 presidential campaign heats up, pay attention to how the candidates are using Social Media. Are there things they are doing that would translate well in your marketing plans? Do you think the candidate with the most Facebook fans will win?

Read more: Presidential Campaign Analytics from Social Media