I was on Twitter today and found the Pew study of cellphones and mobile messaging in the US elections this year so far. And the findings were so bizarre, I stopped Tweeting to rush and write this blog. What is wrong with you US politicos? Both Parties! Shame on you Democrats, party of the Blackberry President! And shame on you Grand Old Party (GOP = Republicans) didn't you learn ANYTHING from the humiliating loss you had in 2008 about social media and... mobile!
Both parties are heavily engaged in the social media space. We see Tweets and Facebook fans and tons of YouTube videos. That is all good. But that won't get into the pockets of your voters on November 6 ! We are three weeks from the election today, and where is the ultimate last inch, of the last foot, of the last mile, of the get-out-the-voter drive? Your superb database of opt-in SMS text messaging. The Pew Study found that of the total voter base, this year only 5% have been contacted to opt-in to a political party SMS text messaging service. WTF !
Hello. HELLO !!!
We reported here on this blog a few years ago about the University of Michigan and Princeton University study of 4,000 US voters from the 2006 election cycle, that found that sending an election day voting reminder via SMS will increase your voter turnout by 4%. FOUR PERCENT! All polls this season nationally have been on average less than 3% apart. This is your margin of victory right here.
You can't do that via email. You can't do that via robocalls. You can't do that via Facebook or Twitter. You can't do that via a website or a smartphone app. You can't do that via TV or radio or any other way. I am not saying don't do all that - I mean, that after all is said and done, after all the party conventions, debates, speeches, kissing babies, celebrity endorsements, TV ads, radio spots, billboards, newspaper endorsements, bumper stickers, pins and yard signs - after all that, on November 6, if your party is able to send SMS reminders to your registered voters, your turnout is up A BONUS 4% ABOVE ALL OTHER ACTIONS YOU COULD HAVE TAKEN
SMS voting day reminders are a magical bonus 4% your party gets for every voter that is reminded. Why would you not want 104% of your vote count! Or more practically, all 88% of your registered voters who own a cellphone - not to be counted? If you have 60 million voters registered to your party (or independents who were willing to opt into your side of the election) and you sent an SMS reminder on election day to every one of them - that will cost you 6 million dollars at undiscounted consumer rates (in reality you buy bulk SMS which is cheaper, but just to keep this simple). Thats what, a couple of weeks of TV ads in Florida. But your TV ads in Florida will not move your national campaign to gain a bonus 2.4 MILLION more votes on November 6. Only SMS election day voting reminders can do this. Only SMS !!! This is by far, BY FAR your most cost-effective vote boosting activity. BY FAR.
That - is the power of SMS. SMS text messaging is the most powerful engagement method of communciation yet invented. And that study was published in 2008, based on an election in 2006. Since then US adoption of SMS text messaging has grown by 50%. SMS text messaging today reaches more people in the USA than email, Facebook, Twitter, or landline phones.
In 2008 President Obama's campaign reached personally 26% of the US voting electorate - and most of those were also asked for, and gave, their cellphone number and were contacted via SMS text messaging. The McCain campaign contacted only 18% of the US electorate (and was not diligent in collecting cellphone numbers and didn't engage strongly with SMS). But lets take the the least case example. The difference is 8% ie 10.5 million voters. And 4% of that was.. 440,000 votes in 2008. Obama did win in 2008, by a landslide but 4.6% of his vote margin (at the very minimum, likely more) was delivered because the campaign sent voting day SMS reminders. What would that have done? 4.6% less votes for the Democrats would have flipped the states of North Carolina and Indiana for McCain. And the race would have been so much more tight, just by those two states, people would not be saing McCain lost by a landslide. Just those two states, and what the Obama campaign did via SMS reminders in November 2008.
So this is not some weird Japanese culture phenomenon with
high tech, or some weird Scandinavian mobile sexual strangeness, no, this was
genuine US university studies of genuine US election results, with US
electorate using SMS not on fancy iPhones or Blackberries, on regular US consumer cellphones, n 2006. In 2006 the usage of SMS had passed 64% of US
cellphone owners, ie about 48% of the total US population or about 39% of the
registered voters. Many US consumers were new to SMS texting, had not yet seen
it used in TV voting like American Idol, and had not yet received alerts and
reminders and customer service messages via SMS.
How is that today? Cellphone users in the USA today use SMS text messaging more than voice calls, according to the CTIA. The latest Acision survey of US cellphone owners find 91% of them using SMS, and as cellphone ownership has increased this means 59% of all US consumers. The Pew study says 75% of registered voters who have a cellphone are using SMS, which across all registered voters is 66% !!!The potential reach of SMS by active users - voters you do not have to teach to use the service, they already are using it - has grown by nearly double in size! Yes, you can reach more than half of all registered voters on voting day, wherever they are, in their cars, at work, visiting grandma, in class, shopping, at a restaurant, travelling, wherever.
Only SMS text messaging will reach this many registered voters on voting day, with a message that the latest 2012 UK survey by the British telecoms regulator Ofcom says are read on average within .. 5 seconds of receipt! Remember email? They tend to be read, on average within 48 hours - and wait - emails are ignored - not read - not opened! - 80% of the time according to also UK 2012 study by the Digital Marketing Association - whereas SMS is read in 97% of the cases of the messages sent! Hello! Send an email to your voter, 80% will ignore it forever, and the average of those 20% who do bother to read it, will do so two days later. SMS is read by 97% of the population and on average within 5 seconds of receipt. On which method do you want to build your 'get out your vote' plan?
So you think your 'smartphone app' strategy is good enough?
Really? Less than half of the US registered voters even have a smartphone today? What did you think about those other 53% or are you like the infamous Romney secret video, obsessing only about the 47%, not the whole country? Why is it that US food giant Kraft has as its mobile strategy 'Leave No Phone Behind' and they start every mobile project with SMS! Why is it that a tiny US marketing company you probably haven't heard of called Coca Cola - who budget their mobile marketing at 70:20:10 ie 70% of the Coca Cola mobile budget goes to mobile messaging, only 20% to the mobile internet, and only 10% yes, only 10 cents out of every Coca Cola mobile marketing dollar - goes to smartphone apps. If this is Coca Cola, who know a thing or two about advertising, where is your marketing dollar US Democrats, US Republicans (And miscellaneous independent and third-party candidates too)
A 2012 survey of 2,000 smartphone owners in the USA and UK found 92% of smartphone users still send SMS text messaging, even as most of them have at least one smartphone-messaging based service as well, such as Blackberry Messenger, Apple's iMessage or some others like Twitter, Skype and Whatsapp. 92% of smartphone users are active users of SMS. What is the best of the rest? Same survey tells us that Facebook can do one third that level. That is your next best. Facebook would get you to 37% of the smartphone owners. Twitter to 17%. Apple's iPhone iMessage users amount to 11% and Blackberry Messenger 10%. Why are you not using SMS as your primary election-day activation tool?
The SMS text messaging addiction by smartphone users in USA and UK is growing, and today is so severe, the respondents to that 2012 Acision survey finds: 69% say they would be 'lost without SMS'. And you the smart politicos are not using this ultimate vote-winning superweapon? Its like you are one of the native Indian tribes who has suddenly captured hundreds of rifles and then decide, no, we rather use the bow and arrow, even though the US cavarlymen use rifles... What is wrong with you politicos this season?
And those US voters then? Check out this 2011 Pew survey of 2,277 US adults. 31% of US cellphone owners said their preference - preference - of method of contact today is SMS, not voice calls, not emails, not meeting face-to-face, 31% want you to initiate contacts via SMS (this for any use, businesses, friends, family, not specific to elections - I would bet its higher for political campaigns than say family and friends).
How addictive is SMS? A Tatango survey in 2011 found of US
adults - 70% sent SMS from work, 68% from the dinner table, 67% from bed, 67%
from sitting on the toilet, 41% while driving (don't text-and-drive, that is
more dangerous than drunk driving, on par with being stoned while driving,
according to studies); 39% have sent SMS from the cinema, 31% from while on a
date and 17% even have sent SMS from church. One in six is so addicted to texting, they secretly send SMS messages from church. Why are you US politicos ignoring
this massive tool in your lap?
Back to the latest Pew Study. 19% of registered US voters in 2012 have sent SMS text messages spontaneously to their friends about matters relating to the election. The electorate is so engaged already - more than 3 weeks before the election, that one in five registered voters is already using SMS to communicate about the candidates. Yet only 10% or the total registered voter base have received any kind of message from the campaign - and worst of all - half of those 5% - report they received unsolicited messages via the phone! Shame! SHAME ! Do not anger your voting constituencies! Do not send spam to your voters. Get their permission and opt-in. 5% of the voters have so far opted in for campaign SMS notices and alerts
Think how ridiculously lop-sided this is! Already today, 19% of voters are using SMS to talk about the election TODAY, yet only 5% of them have been contacted by a campaign to opt in to get SMS based alerts and news. WTF. What The F*ck. What the Friggin F*ck is going on? So 14% of the electorate is 'abandoned' to talk about your candidate(s) using SMS but you - the clever politicos - are not going to engage with them on election day. How many votes is that? Let me do a quick count based on 2008 turnout.
131 Million votes cast x 14% actively using SMS but not
engaged by either party = 18.3 Million voters. If they got SMS reminders on
voting day and 4.2% voted more than would have otherwise, that is.. .770,000
18.3 Million voters today are talking about YOUR campaign using SMS, that have not been contacted by the campaign to ask permission to join that conversation? To particpate. To give SMS based updates and news. And that is abandoning 770,000 votes! Who is running your campaign? Does Jim Messina and David Axelrod know, that you Dems have left 770 THOUSAND votes uncast, uncounted. How many swing states are lost in that shuffle? Does Matt Rhoades and Beth Myers know that you Republicans have left 770 THOUSAND votes on the table in this tight race? Are you mad!
Obama Campaign! You are tied today. Can you afford to toss 770,000 votes into the garbage can? Romney Campaign! You clawed your candidate to a 50/50 race, can you afford to forego 770,000 votes today? 770,000 votes is 0.59% nearly 0.6% of the total voting electorate - who are currently ALREADY engaged on SMS but actively ignored by both inept parties. SHAME ON YOU!!
Pew tells us that 75% of registered voters with cellphones - ie 66% of all voters today is already using SMS text messaging - this before your campaign has increased that usage just like American Idol does for its TV viewership every season. If we only take 75% of the total electorate, on 2008 voter turnout, it means 86.5 Million registered voters today are using this method - the most used way to communicate on the planet. And the magic is, that if you only activate your voters using this method, by sending and SMS reminder on voting day - it means 3.6 million votes this year - yes almost 50% more than it did in 2008. 3.6 million votes out of total turnout is 2.7% You are leaving on the table 2.7% voter margin!
Lets see how RealClearPolitics rates the battleground races today, on 16 October. These are the states today, according to RCP, that are within 2.7%:
Colorado - Romney up by 0.6%
Florida, Romney up by 2.5%
Nevada, Obama up by 1.6%
New Hampshire, Obama up by 0.5%
Ohio, Obama up by 2.2%
Virginia, Obama up by 0.8%
Wisconsin, Obama up by 2.3%
The overall RealClearPolitics electoral college vote forecast today has 201 EC votes for Obama, 191 EC votes for Romney. So this one matter - SMS activation, would easily today swing the election to either side. If Romney activated the voter base with SMS, it would move Nevada, NH, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin to his column, and Romney becomes president winning 280 EC votes. Or if Obama took these swing states, the ones he has a small lead, and adding using SMS, Colorado and Florida, Obama wins with 290 EC votes (ignoring now what happens in those other battleground states like Pennsylvania or Missouri which are far more to one side or the other). The battle is won or lost right here. Who uses SMS wins. What am I missing? I did not claim this - this was a University study, a massive University study of US voters by Princeton University and University of Michigan, published in 2008. You gain a bonus vote tally of 4.2% when you use SMS reminders on voting day. Duh!
There is more in that survey! Pew tells us that 27% of the registered voters today are using their cellphones to keep up with the campaigns and the election (now, more than 3 weeks before the election already - this will grow massively in the last days). Among smartphone users specifically (a little less than half of all registered voters with a cellphone have a smartphone today) 35% have gone to their smartphone to fact-check a claim by a candidate! (incidentially, that is 14% of the total registered voter base, yes, one in seven voting Americans today go to their pockets to fact-check claims made by the candidates. You might consider how much you allow your candidates to stretch the truth - I am talking to you Republicans this year, what is it with LyinRyan and FlipFloppinMitt?)
But politicos! Why are you not using SMS to send those fact-check results directly to your engaged electorate, so they don't have to go seek them. If one in seven does it already, you betcha there will be two or three more in seven who would want to. And then, they DO share. If you send an SMS with the fact-check results, you know what happens? Your supporters will - at their own cost - spread that SMS to their friends!!!! Did you know you can embed a web link onto your SMS, so it can go to the full fact-check story too. Better yet, use MMS to send the truth-o-meter picture too, 'liar liar pants on fire' etc.. WHY ARE YOU NOT USING MESSAGING?
You still have 3 weeks - make it a top priority to get those cellphone numbers and opt-in permissions. If the Obama campaign was able to contact personally 26% in 2008, surely you two modern, tech-savvy smart young campaigns on both sides can do better! You should easily do 40% or 50% opt-in SMS contacts this campaign season. They have seen the campaign enter the final month, they want to know more. Send them SMS news and updates for free, to their cellphones, from the candidate and campaign.
All you down-ballot politicos - this all goes for you too. Shame on you! You need to get with the program. Facebook will not bring 4% more votes on voting day, neither will YouTube or some mailers or yard signs or bumper stickers. Only SMS can deliver a bonus 4.2% into your vote count on November 6. But you have to get those cellphone numbers and permissions NOW. Move!
This has been a public service announcement to serve the electorally challenged. No live politicians were used or harmed in the making of this public service announcement. Take proper precautions when using cellphones and do not let your digital agencies bamboozle you into spending all your cash on iPhone apps no matter how cool they might seem. To understand more about the state of mobile, the size of the industry, the usage of SMS etc, please see TomiAhonen Almanac 2012.
And while this was about elections 2012, if you are more a future-oriented strategic thinker person, go read this blog about what is coming next in mobile, over the next few years - NOT YOU, Politicos in US elections, you have one mission today, go get your voters to sign up to your opt-in SMS database, don't you go read that story about the future of this industry. You have time on November 7 to come back and read that other blog article about what mobile will be like for you in the 2014 midterm elections and 2016 general election. You have fallen behind in SMS, you have to move NOW.
To first-time visitors to this blog. So who is this angry old dude on this bizarre blog? Welcome to the Communities Dominate blog, launched to support the book Communities Dominate Brands back in 2005. We've had over 3 million visitors - and yet no advertising and no registration. I am the most published author in this tech field of mobile telecoms, 12 books so far and counting. I am referenced in over 120 books by my peers. This blog is widely syndicated and I was recently rated by Forbes as the most influential expert in the mobile industry. I lecture on mobile matters at Oxford University's short course for mobile industry executives and I speak on these topics around the world. I am from Finland, live now here in Asia and yet I am often seen speaking also on your shores from New York to Atlanta to Phoenix to San Francisco and have tons of US based customers such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Google, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Motorola, etc and I am often quoted in your press from the Wall Street Journal and Business Week to the Seattle Times and San Francisco Chronicle. My passion is the mobile industry. I tweet as @tomiahonen with 10,000 followers which is peanuts in the scale of political followers, but is huge in the telecoms/tech space.. So yes, I am 'legit'. Feel free to Google me to see more of me and find my books on Amazon etc.