Friends Don't Vote; Evangelists Do

The two weeks since the election have been filled with theories about what, precisely, fueled the Obama victory. Technophiles and social media gurus have been quick to connect the dots between the huge gap in the youth vote (Obama led McCain among the under thirty crowd by a 2-to-1 margin) and the Obama campaign’s extensive use of ìhipî technologies to announce his running mate, raise money, and defend himself.
It is a joke to assume that every one of Barack Obama’s 3,164,379 Facebook friends voted for him. The lesson behind the punchline is that “friending” is a lesser commitment than voting?but the latter is fostered by the former. The real takeaway for brand managers is not the Obama campaignís use of the internet to make news or to raise money; it is its use of the internet as a way to turn semi-interested supporters into devoted, uber-committed brand evangelists?especially via fightthesmears.com?that we find most exciting.
To paraphrase Mack Collier, brand evangelists are committed to your brand to the extent that they are willing to go the extra mile in order to see the brand succeed. The Obama campaign recognized that whether the ìextra mileî is spent driving a bit further to a beloved local book store or walking down a stretch of sidewalk knocking on doors for your candidate, the principle is the same.
What’s the next “brand” challenge for Obama? Obama has set the bar high by connecting directly with voters to drive evangelism/engagement. It’s an entirely new order of magnitude?and perhaps an important measure of success?to maintain this connection as he transitions from campaigning to governing.

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