Lessons From Obama on Social Selling

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Barack Obama

Whether you like President Obama is your opinion. But like him or not, the man is a social media powerhouse. Companies, sales and marketing professionals can all learn a thing or three from the man with 36,444,352 likes on Facebook (I’m serious, that’s how many people follow Barack Obama on Facebook…and counting). If JFK was the President that dominated and worked television like no other before him, Obama is his equal in the world of social media.

If you could be a fly on the wall of Senator Obama’s first presidential campaign, you would discover a paradigm shift under way. Obama declared to his staff that the web be integrated into everything they do. It effectively became their central hub of communications.

What did President Obama do that was so unique? And what can we take away from him and learn as Social Sellers?

Here are a few thoughts for you:

Content Frequency

The campaign sent over 1 billion e-mails with over 7000 personalized messages. This type of frequency allowed the message to get to people any time. While the competitor struggled with messaging, Obama was firing on all cylinders.

The ability to reach your audience frequently, especially those that are subscribed to you, is important. Use this to leverage valuable information to subscribers. Ultimately, this will differentiate you as a thought leader (something Obama was able to do quite successfully).

The lesson to be learned here: share valuable content often, solicit feedback and spark conversations.

The Viral Factor

Obama had more than 2x the content sharing than McCain. It’s because Obama went to the people and used a communication medium that worked. He gave very easy and simple calls to action:

  • Click here to share
  • Click here to donate
  • Click here to volunteer

Obama knew that voters would support him because the majority of the research would be done online. Voters are tuning less into TV for decisions and opting to do research online. This is where the President went.

The lesson to be learned here: your buyer is changing and doing more research online. Are you there to accompany them?


Campaign messaging was blistering fast and extremely personalized. Marketing automation played a key role in this, I’m sure. But either way, the campaign was sharing information based on preferences and previous read articles on the candidate’s website. The result? Obama had more than 4x the subscribers than McCain and over 9x video views. In short, he dominated.

You may be wondering how to achieve this. Good news; it’s possible without investing a single penny. Start small and on your patch of land.

The lesson to be learned here: get in front of your prospects and present them the content they already find appealing. How, you ask? Why not start at their LinkedIn profile and see which influencers they’re following and subscribing to. Find some way to position yourself accordingly based on this information.

The Bottom Line

Sales and marketing professionals can learn much from the Obama campaign. Social Selling mirrors these tactics and allows you to connect and engage with buyers and prospects online. Check out our 10 Steps to Building a Social Selling Machine and our 42 LinkedIn Inside Sales Tips. Click the Schedule button below if you’d like to learn more about how to use Social Selling to get more meetings.

Amar Sheth


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The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling