When someone who was a vital cog in Barack Obama's social media campaign shows up, you listen.
That was the scenario in the Leacock Theatre at Mount Royal College in Calgary with Rahaf Harfoush speaking to a very attentive crowd of communication professionals and promoting her new book.
Harfoush was a volunteer and consultant with the Obama campaign, the campaign that turned a massive online campaign into a sucessful election. They changed the game by cutting a wider swath and going after smaller donations. They leveraged the many social networks they were on into a huge distribution network that rivaled the mainstream media.
They created new ways for their highly engaged volunteers to contribute and focused on new ways to convert those who were interested but had lower levels of engagement. The main tool to convert these low end users was email. They collected 13 million email addresses and sent out one billion emails using a hypersegmented strategy, sending out emails by zip code, issues and other categories.
But email was only a part of their strategy. Never before has a political campaign used so many different social media platforms and had such success building worthwhile and engaged communities on those platforms. Obama embarassed McCain far outpacing him in Facebook and Myspace friends, Twitter followers and Youtube views.
She called Facebook "one of the most successful applications we had,". The Facebook group Student for Obama had 60,000 members in 2006.
Harfoush is a talented speaker and it's great to peek inside this huge multi-layered campaign. While her lessons were basic community building concepts she got her point across well. It's encouraging to see a young Toronto woman accomplish what she's accomplished already.
Follow her on Twitter here.
Find her blog here.
Techvibes contributor Doug Lacombe live-tweeted the event here. He will also be reviewing the book down the road.