The social media uses by Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign may very well turn into one of the biggest case studies of this decade. His ability to engage new audiences and interest young voters through social media networking powered a movement despite overwhelming odds against him.
His campaign was able to raise more donations, not through fundraisers but tapping into social media resources as well as organizing local groups to help gain millions of supporters, get people out to vote and fight smear campaigns.
A year later, Obama hasn’t stopped using social media. He now uses it to govern, often sending out email blasts to garner support for various bills. Now local governments are jumping on the social media bandwagon and as Kelli Matthews writes in Thoughts Out Loud: Local Governments Using Social Media, there are some tips that they need or should follow in order to be effective.
One key point I found extremely important is the ability of local governments to be human and be real. Social media is all about interacting. If people feel that they are being sold or told how to think or feel, they aren’t going to pay attention. They want to engage, to give opinion and to have conversations.
How should governments participate? Three main points: Listen first, be authentic and be strategic. Governments need to know what conversations are being had so that what they want to talk about is relevant and important to its online constituents. Be authentic. If you aren’t, the internet is too fast with too many people and wrong or misleading messages can blow up, and quick.
And what about those who have negative comments. I say perfect. This is the time to clear the air or respond appropriately and publicly. One suggestion Matthews gives is to have a policy in place for hate speech, porn or other inappropriate material. Both Facebook and YouTube empowers people to alert them of inappropriate material, local governments should too.
Social media, no matter who you are or what you do (ie Employees being discreet about their jobs, professional athletes engaging with fans), there needs to be a set of guidelines and I think this blog does a great job of that.