The Power of Social Media

What do Obama and Western Union have in common?

Both have successfully tapped into the power of Millennials in their recent campaigns. Our research shows that an astounding 88% of 18-24 year olds use social networks, and both “brands” have been able to engage this growing market. Marketers are finding social media to be a valuable platform for promoting their cause, and young Americans are increasingly accepting of being marketed to online.

Many have attributed the success of president-elect Barack Obama’s election campaign to his ability to utilize new media platforms in his campaign. He was able to rely on his Internet presence for much of his record-breaking fundraising, and Advertising Age even deemed him “Marketer of the Year” for 2008. The use of social media made his campaign widely accessible and empowered voters to have a voice in the election, especially younger voters who are comfortable navigating this realm of communication. But it is not only future presidential hopefuls who can take a tip from Mr. Obama; the engagement of youth activists is increasingly important, and social media is the way to capture their attention. 

Western Union, a Cone client, mobilized its cause campaign via Facebook with the launch of its Our World Gives application, which encourages users to vote for one of eight nonprofit organizations to receive a $50,000 donation from the Western Union Foundation.  To date, the application has attracted over 40,000 voters in its attempt to gain awareness among younger and social media-savvy individuals. 

As Millennials surpass baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States, the need to engage via online and social media will become increasingly important, and organizations must be prepared to act.  Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, all organizations must take a tip from social media innovators such as Barack Obama and Western Union.  It is no longer enough to be present online, as younger consumers are looking for higher engagement and more power to voice their opinions and show what they stand for.


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