Barack Obama Goes Between Two Ferns

Over the past few years, I’ve been talking about video and using it effectively to drive people to do things on the web. I’ve never found anything extremely interesting that drives me to do something using video, well not as interesting as what I’m about to write about in this post.

This week as usual at Grassroots Online we picked our topics for the RootsCast. And it was this week’s episode that finally made me laugh – even before we started to air our podcast. One of our topics for this week is an awesome example of using video to push people to a website and complete an action.

Between Two Ferns is a short video podcast hosted by Zack Galifianakis, and it’s freaking hilarious. I’m actually surprised (since I’m a big Zack fan) that I didn’t know about it. Well, now I do and let me tell you: I laughed my butt off. Then I started to analyze one show in particular with guest President Barack Obama.

If you haven’t already heard, President Obama has had some difficulty getting his biggest policy off the ground successfully. The Affordable Health Care Act has been plagued with issues and controversy, especially online. Although most of the issues have been fixed, the website was a disaster when it was first launched. Obama’s team needed to win this one and reach out to young people to ensure they were enrolled by the deadline. Politics aside, I give him and his team credit for coming up with this idea and making it successful. Let me explain.

Going where the audience lives

In the social media and the web world, many people put out campaigns and cater to a wide spectrum of people. Their thought being that people will catch on and with a wider the spectrum of people they’ll have a better chance of capturing a larger audience. Unfortunately that is not always the case and they reach less people than if they had targeted a smaller, specific group with interests that line up with the message at hand.

Obama folks decided that they needed to reach out to a younger demographic and drive them to to register. So what did they do? They went where those younger folks hang out.

By going where the young generation hangs out online, in this instance doing an episode of Between Two Ferns, they were able to reach their target demographic and drive them to using humour.

Taking a chance

President Obama and his team took at chance; I can’t give them enough kudos for doing this. More politicians, world leaders and candidates need to take chances, do something different, even funny, make light of serious issues – it’s a great way to engage people. Take a chance you say? Yes, if you haven’t watched the video yet – take 6 minutes and watch it.

Zack Galifianakis is one funny individual and he hits Obama on his show putting him in the hot seat (no doubt scripted) taking some shots a few times about Obamacare being a flop, the NSA spying on people and a whole host of issues that have plagued the Obama administration. Any other politician would easily try to avoid those issues, but Obama takes them on with some lighthearted humor. Ultimately he does this because the goal is to drive the demographic to by using this platform. And guess what? By taking one for his team throughout the short video, Obama scores.

Letting people know about their success

How did Obama score? Here’s how – site traffic on went up the next day by 40%, there were over 11 million views of that episode and almost 900,000 people were referred to after watching it. That’s mission accomplished.

And what did they do about it? They did what all of us don’t do enough of – they bragged about success and let people know exactly what they had done and what the increased traffic was online through Twitter, ultimately using their tweets as another push for people to watch the video and visit

As campaigns start to use video more and more in the future and targeting their audience and going where they live, I believe that we’ll see a whole new level of engagement between politicians and voters. Kudos to Barack Obama and his team for always being leaders online.

Check out the this weeks’ RootsCast for more on Between Two Ferns.

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