Leave it to the Obama campaign, the same savvy machine that effectively tapped social media for a successful run for the presidency in 2008, to exploit the full potential of YouTube. The president’s 17-minute, Tom Hanks-narrated documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled,” was released March 15 on the BarackObama.com YouTube channel. As The New York Times reported, the video is positioned so that, from one place, viewers can share the video on Facebook and Twitter, volunteer to join the Obama campaign or donate immediately while watching.
This strategy makes the most of an opt-in audience that implicitly supports President Obama. It will allow the documentary to fluidly travel to several online communities where friends and family member can share, discuss and debate—all while racking up video views.
What remains to be seen is whether or not the online viewer, whose attention span is extremely short, will be captivated enough to watch the entire 17 minutes or continue on with their Web travels. Since there is generally a dramatically diminishing tail of viewership for longer online videos, perhaps the two-minute trailer for the film—which has over 500,000 views after one week on YouTube—will have a better shot at going viral.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg