Introduction

As I write this, it is several months after Barack Obama was reelected president of the United States. While there are many reasons for his winning a second term, one that stands out is his campaign's use of the ideas in this book; their use led to more engagement with voters online. The Obama campaign used social networking to reach and engage voters, rather than just advertising to them online, as the Romney campaign frequently did. And people responded by showing their online support. For example, at the time of the election on November 6, 2012, the Obama for America Facebook page had 32 million “Likes,” while Mitt Romney's Facebook page had about 12 million. Barack Obama's Twitter feed had nearly 22.8 million followers on Election Day, while Mitt Romney had just 1.7 million.

Social networks matter in the daily lives of voters. The Social Media and Political Engagement report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project finds that 66 percent of American social media users—or 39 percent of all American adults—have used social media for civic or political activities such as showing support for a candidate, encouraging others to vote, or posting their thoughts about the election. Against that backdrop, we might well speculate that voters engaged with the Obama campaign online may have made the difference in the election.

This significance goes beyond U.S. presidential elections. For any business, nonprofit, or other organization, the old rules of ...

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