President Barack Obama held the spotlight January 24, 2012, during his State of the Union address to the United States of America and the world.
The next Monday night he kept the conversation going using a “Hangout,” which is a video chat room available through the social networking site Google+.
President Obama has been the face of social politics since his campaign for the presidency in 2008, and he continues to find new ways to connect with potential voters online.
“Barack Obama gets the Internet and social media the way that Kennedy got TV,” wrote Rich Brooks in his FastCompany.com article, “What Businesses Can Learn from Barack Obama's Social Media Strategy.”
Brooks wrote his article the day before then President-elect Obama’s inauguration—after experiencing a campaign that gathered momentum, voters and donations online the way no other candidate ever had.
Similar sentiments were written after Monday’s online Town Hall Meeting where President Obama and five pre-selected Americans participated in the live streamed event moderated by Steve Grove, head of community partnerships at Google+.
“Just as FDR triumphed on radio and JFK on TV, Barack Obama shines in social media circles with an upbeat, easy-going style,” wrote Cory Bergman of the social media TV Website LostRemote.com. “Just as TV changed campaigns and candidates, social media is doing it all over again.”
Republicans, democrats and independents alike need to pay heed to the impact of social media. They also need to respect their audiences and realize not every venture will be a success.
The Obama administration embarked on the #Compromise campaign in July of 2011 and actually lost 14,000 (of his nearly 9 million) Twitter followers for deluging them with the Twitter contact information of Republicans from all 50 states. Many in his audience did not appreciate this force-fed content and they voiced their disapproval through immediate action. Social media site Mashable discusses the criticism of the campaign in further detail here.
Time and a different social outlet may have healed those wounds. After absorbing the messages, discussing with family and friends and even re-watching the address online, the general public was prepared for the online Town Hall Meeting: Users created and submitted (via Google’s YouTube property) more than 130,000 videos featuring their reactions to and questions about the president’s State of the Union address.
Jennifer Epstein of Politico.com recapped the event in her Politico.com article, “President Obama Google+ chat gets personal,” where she spoke with Macon Phillips, the White House director of new media, about the approach.
“Participants in this have a chance to talk about what they want,” said Phillips. “We need to be able to give people a chance to speak.”
Some Americans had their chance to voice opinions and concerns; President Obama empowered an audience while keeping his State of the Union message alive and in the news cycle; and Google+ had another opportunity to show the value of social media done correctly through its “Hangout” and YouTube tools.
But this approach isn’t just for politicians and voters.
If you are a business owner, executive at a company, or a marketing or public relations manager take note of what a social media policy and well-orchestrated campaign can do for your outreach and potentially your bottom line.
Spotlight your company and empower the customers you count on for success. It can be scary, but there is a good chance they will thank you and reward you for your authentic voice and ear, even if they don’t make you Commander-In-Chief.