Nov 7, 2008

So what's next?

Obama Social
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In my newfound obsession with marketing lessons from the election, particularly the role of social media, the question becomes: What will we see next? Can part of Obama's change also include a fundamental shift in the way a presidential administration interacts with the public, particularly the youth in America who in just a few short years will make up the single largest demo graphical voting bloc in the country?

Many criticized Obama for focusing almost exclusively on "hope." But hope is indeed a powerful emotion (look no further than the gushing emotion displayed in Grant Park Tuesday night). Through a continued commitment to the social web as president, the country's collective hope could be harvested and transformed into collective action. Here are some thoughts on ways the Obama administration could do just that.
Politicians have always had websites dedicated to their campaign, but few truly use the web as an effective tool once elected. On, Obama supporters could create a profile (complete with name, phone number, email and zip code), blog about their campaign experiences, track the latest campaign news and videos, plan, attend and discuss events, find other supporters, and help raise funds for his campaign. Most importantly, the Obama campaign has put supporters to work not as passive volunteers but as empowered organizers, with tools to find, convince and organize other supporters among their neighbors.

The current site provides information, but little opportunity to connect and communicate. Instead, turn into to provide the public with direct contact and the opportunity to share ideas and organize in their communities to bring ideas to life.

Social web only works when it is transparent and consumer driven. In this case, allow the public to submit suggestions and feedback, and have a staff on hand that can respond thoughtfully to these submissions with more than a canned "Thank You" note. Whether the submitted queries be big or small, respond with the information the public needs to act and make the site a a true link from the public to the government.

Online Anthropology

The NSA has technology to monitor online chatter in blogs, forums, message boards, etc. Use this not only as a tool to root out criminal and terrorist activity, but harvest its true power as a direct source of public input. People express themselves most openly and honestly when an interviewer isn't asking them questions, so listen to what they are talking about with each other and respond accordingly.

Legislative Co-creation
progressive brands have found the best products often come when comsumers are at the helm of R&D and can co-create new products and services. How cool would it be if we could actually work with our elected officials to create legislation? Why should we only allow for public input and voting on election day? Social media can bring the public's voice to legislative creation and prioritization 365 days a year! Let us "Digg" up the issues we want addressed and make every day an opportunity to "vote."

A True Community Organizer
Think of how effective a financing strategy of gathering a large number of small donations was compared to seeking a small number if big donations. The campaign showed us repeatedly that organization at a grassroots level is often more effective than major national programs. There is the opportunity to greatly increase the overall amount of community service if the public can be enabled to contribute their time in smaller, more frequent ways.

While America was founded upon the principle of elected representation, its sovereignty lies with the people. My hope is that Obama continues to continue to show interest in the power of online technology and use it in his governing. Now that would be change we can all believe in.