5 Lessons About the Internet from the 2008 Election

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2008 Election Cartoon

(cartoon from gapingvoid)

Regardless of whether or not you are happy with the outcome of the United States Presidential Election, there is one thing that we can all agree on: the 2008 election has solidified the legitimacy of the Internet as a platform that carries serious weight.  Although topics such as blogging and social media have encountered a lot of resistance from companies who are still stuck in their old ways, this election has shown the world that if these businesses don’t accept the impact that the Internet is having and adapt to it, they are going to be overtaken by competitors who are embracing the new way consumers interact with businesses.

To give you some concrete topics to think about, here are five lessons about the Internet that were demonstrated by this presidential election:

People Love Online Video: If you had any doubts about whether or not people are spending more time watching video on the Internet, this campaign should be the definitive answer for you. According to InformationWeek, users spent 14.5 million hours watching videos from the Obama campaign. While this statistic alone is quite staggering, what really makes this statistic amazing is that those 14.5 million hours only include videos that were created by the Obama campaign. They don’t take into account the amount of time spent watching the countless other number of popular YouTube videos related to the 2008 election, such as the 5 Friends video, which is five minutes long and was watched by over 1.1 million people.

Twitter Has Major Potential: Although it has become somewhat of a hobby for TechCrunch to criticize Twitter about its various problems, the fact that Barack Obama has nearly 120,000 followers on Twitter shows that this service has serious potential down the road. Additionally, Twitter has received massive exposure to mainstream audiences as a result of CNN promoting Twitter heavily during a lot of their election coverage.

While you shouldn’t expect to amass anywhere near this scale of followers, if you have been trying to decide whether or not it is worth your time to start building a following on Twitter, I think that the election shows that there has never been a better time than now to get started.

Don’t Neglect PPC: hbaum made a post last week comparing PPC and organic SEO. I really liked a comment left by Gerald Weber regarding his surprise that “some search marketers have a what’s better mentality when it comes to organic vs PPC,” and I think this election showed why no one should be neglecting PPC.

If you look at how the candidates used PPC, they showed how it can work hand in hand with organic efforts. Although it would have taken a countless amount of time for candidates to rank for hot terms like “economic crisis” or “debate,” they were able to instantly address the questions of voters searching for these terms through the use of PPC campaigns.

You Should Be Utilizing Facebook Applications: A lot of people are still trying to figure out the best way to leverage the large audience of Facebook, and I think one of the best answers to this question is Facebook applications. For example, Barack’s official Facebook application has nearly 200,000 users. While it can take some creativity to come up with an application idea that appeals to users, the viral nature of Facebook can make it easy to gain traction with a Facebook application that offers some type of value to users.

Yes, Second Life is Still Around: Out of all the research I did for this post, this was the topic that surprised me the most. I’ve played around with Second Life a couple of times, but never found any value in it. However, as InformationWeek discussed, it looks like this virtual world can be a useful platform when properly utilized:

Baker, whose injuries sustained in Vietnam and subsequent military service make it difficult for him to stand or walk for long periods, is active in Second Life, using the name “Willys Faulkes.” He built an Obama campaign headquarters in the virtual world, where supporters could download campaign literature, and get in discussions with other Obama supporters, undecided voters, and McCain supporters as well — the Republican campaign also had supporters in Second Life.

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