Obama’s digital chief: Oz politicians need to be ‘digital natives’

Obama’s digital chief: Oz politicians need to be ‘digital natives’
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The chief digital strategist behind US President Barack Obama’s last two successful election campaigns has told B&T that political parties in Australia need to be “digital natives” ahead of September’s Federal Election.

Joe Rospers (pictured), who was Obama’s digital strategist for the 2008 and 2012 US elections, directing the President's fundraising, campaigning and communications efforts online, said Australian politicians need to focus on mobilising grassroots supports through social media rather than engaging in mudslinging at one another.  

“Politicians, as well as other organisations and brands, need to focus on their grassroots, and have an emotional component about how they’re trying to relate to people … they need to decide how they’re going to invest in it and how they’re going to measure it,” said Rospars, chief executive at Blue State Digital, who was tasked with mobilising 13 million online supporters for Obama's relection last year.

The campaign engaged a record number of Americans through social media, which Joe Rospars said gave people a genuine sense of involvement in the re-election of Obama.

Rospars added that Australian politicians need appear more human to voters and use grassroots campaigns to recruit supporters, adding that using digital as a key strategy will only be as big as a political party or its leader wants to make it.

Rospers, who also helped mastermind digital strategies for French president Francois Hollande's Socialist Party election win last year, said more than 30 percent of Obama supports opened a campaign email on mobile devices during the US election, adding that some politicans are still in denail about how frequently people are interacting with them on a mobile device.

Joe Rospars will be speaking at the Sydney Writers Festival.

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