Home Obama’s Social Media Advantage, Act II

Obama’s Social Media Advantage, Act II

Much has been said about the masterful use of social media by the Obama campaign. The people working for the President-Elect were by far the more active – and the more savvy – of the two US Presidential candidates in terms of understanding and effectively employing social media as a way of engaging and motivating voters. Regardless of your political leanings, the numbers speak for themselves.

But was it just a means to an end? Or is this personal engagement – embracing social media as a new way of communicating with the masses – something we should expect Obama to use throughout his presidency?

If change.gov – the new site for the President-Elect – is any indication, the second act of Obama’s social media strategy may have even more impact on the United States than the impressive – and historic – first act.

Given the rich history of politicians using a variety of means to attain office and – upon election – rapidly changing their respective tunes, the end of the campaign and the beginning of presidency held with it a certain amount of trepidation. Would the people’s candidate – one who had been engaged and engaging – suddenly revert to the guise and personality of the classic politician?

Despite the overwhelming prevalence of “hope,” an air of political cynicism – one formed by decades, if not centuries of experience – still festered below the surface. But that cynicism may have been dealt another blow. And the Obama campaign may have found another way to continue the conversation that they started.

With the launch of change.gov, Obama appears to be staying the course. He’s not avoiding the conversation; he’s embracing it. And while there’s not much to the change.gov site currently, it’s the fragments that tell the story. And it’s a story of a continued commitment to interact with the people on a very personal basis:

“The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. It is about the great things we can do when we come together around a common purpose. The story of bringing this country together as a healed and united nation will be led by President-Elect Obama, but written by you. The millions of you who built this campaign from the ground up, and echoed your call for the change you wanted to see implemented by the Obama Administration – this process of setting up that new government is about you.”

As part of continuing that story, the Obama organization is asking the people of the US to share their stories and to share their goals.

In short, Obama has begun crowdsourcing the political agenda. And when it comes right down to it, isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be about anyway? A government of the people, by the people, for the people?

A few weeks ago when Gartner hypothesized that “social networks will complement, and may replace, some government functions,” it seemed almost laughable. But today, in the wake of what has occurred this week, it seems all the more accurate and attainable.

The Obama organization continues to turn the political machine on its ear and continues to shake the conventional wisdom of “political strategy.” If change.gov is any indication, the use of social media appears to have been much more than a gimmick for Obama. It appears to have truly been a means of embracing change.

Whatever happens next, it will be incredibly interesting to see how this next act plays out. And what acts – or actions – follow.

(Photo credit Joe Crimmings Photography. Used under Creative Commons.)

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