The voters have spoken loud and clear. I-1098 was defeated in every county in Washington State. Despite this clean sweep, both sides of I-1098 were aggressive with Web marketing, fully embraced social media and raised incredible financial support – totaling $12,755,895.97 across all campaigns (PDC).
Both sides of the ballot populated their messages in a variety of online channels. All data below was captured on Nov. 7, 2010. Here are the properties and statistics for the “Yes on 1098″ camp, which raised a total $6,401,764.01 and spent $6,099,874.10 on its campaign.
10,941 Likes, 22 photo albums, 34 events
Following 975, 275 followers, on 18 lists, 385 tweets
10,254 channel views, 23,227 total upload views, 15 subscribers, 16 videos posted
The campaign against I-1098, “Defeat 1098″ hosted a competitive online presence as well. Here are the properties and statistics for Defeat 1098, which raised a total $6,354,131.96 and spent $5,113,900.13 on its campaign.
4,325 Likes, 0 photo albums, 1 event
Following 1,502, 526 followers, listed by 28, 510 tweets
93,508 channel views, 26,586 total upload views, 13 subscribers, 30 videos posted
While we can’t see how much traffic came to the campaign websites, we can see they had varying success in social media. For example, Yes on 1098 had used Facebook to much greater effect, utilizing events and photo applications and earning nearly 11,000 Likes. The engagement therer pummeled Defeat 1098, which drew just 4,325 Likes, on the biggest social networking platform. Twitter didn’t seem to be a successful medium for either campaign, which each drew fewer than 600 followers.
The big difference online for the winning opposition campaign was YouTube. While the pro-1098 camp only posted 16 videos drawing 10,254 channel views and 23,227 total upload views, the Defeat 1098 campaign posted 30 videos drawing an incredible 93,508 channel views, 26,586 total upload views. I had to double-check the numbers because the channel views were so dramatically dominant. I noticed the Defeat 1098 YouTube videos in ads on YouTube and ad spaces on other blog sites, so I have to believe there’s a correlation in the ad spend driving people to the YouTube that the campaign made and the high number of channel views they received.
What stood out to me was how the effective the video medium had to have been in delivering the message. Defeat 1098 essentially extended its television ads online and drove voters to watch them to get the message. We often think about social media being about the conversation, and Yes on 1098 put a lot of effort into hosting the conversation on Facebook, an obvious choice. However, strong campaign messages can get lost in social media conversation, where the latest opinion is usually the most prominent. Defeat 1098 appeared to control and drive its message with more content and less opportunity for rich dialogue — and that worked tremendously.
Yes on 1098 spend nearly $1 million more than its opponent, but it should have prioritized more of that budget on video commercials to spread its message. The lesson in this initiative race seems to be that while organic conversation that social media offers can be an opportunity for campaigns, if you want to control the message you have to amplify the messaged content to regularly steer the conversation in your favor.