Texting The VP: Barack Obama's Mobile Marketing Effort

So we’re all awaiting, perhaps any minute now, the text message telling us who Barack Obama has picked as a running mate. My guess is we will hear it today so the news cycle starts with today’s evening news and dominates that weekend talking heads TV shows.

The mobile strategy is brilliant on many levels.

Future Tense host Jon Gordon with Tom Crann on All Things Considered yesterday about the Barack Obama campaign’s use of text messaging to announce his vice presidential pick.

The campaign’s mobile marketing strategy includes a mobile web site optimized for smart phones as well as the text messaging system.  As Gordon points out, mobile and text messaging use is a dominant form of communication among specific demographics the Obama campaign is targeting: Millennials in general, but African Americans and Hispanics in particular.

The simple idea of making a major announcement such as the candidate’s veep pick through text messaging will build the campaign’s mobile marketing database exponentially. As the screen shots below show, subscribers are immediately prompted with a follow-up text to tell the campaign their zip code.

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Those are perhaps the most important five characters the campaign could collect. Phone numbers in and of themselves are of limited strategic utility but you can do a lot with the phone numbers of people you can identify geographically.

The campaign has built text messaging into the very fabric of the campaign. At in-person campaign events, organizers ask volunteers to text message three friends with messages of support for Obama. Political messages are most effective when coming from a known and trusted source, so who better to spread the Obama love than friends and family?

Text messaging will no doubt be used in the campaign’s get out the vote efforts, if only to remind people to vote on election day, with a link to the location of their polling station. I would not be surprised, however, to see the campaign use text messaging for on-the-ground organizing, rapid-response activities, and, of course, fundraising.

The novelty of announcing a running mate via text messaging guarantees that media coverage of the pick will mention the manner in which it was announce. That awareness building will further help increase their subscriptions as more people find out about the service.

While any announcement of a running mate by either candidate is guaranteed to create a lot of blog buzz, using text to announce the pick helps spread the message in more immediate venues such as Twitter and FriendFeed and from there to Facebook and MySpace and, finally, to blogs.

begins and ends with a solicitation to subscribe to the text messaging service. There are three opportunities to “tell a friend” by sending you to .

The site offers a bite-sized bio and news, downloadable video and wallpapers and ringtones so supporters can put Obama’s voice on their phone for everyone who calls them to hear. The site gathers more demographic information with a mobile-sized poll.

Finally, the site gathers emails by offering to deliver you a policy white paper:

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The really big question, which Gordon asks in the All Things Considered piece, is whether or not a victorious Obama could use their database of supporters to govern. It’s not a stretch at all to imagine getting a text message urging you to call your representative to insist they support a bill the president favors.

Listen to All Things Considered:

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