Obama victory + social engagement = ?

Almost a week has passed since Obama became President Elect of the United States. For those of us not lucky enough to be in Chicago to suck-up the potent positivity (my Edelman colleague Jonny Bentwood was fortunate enough to experience Grant Park from the ground), it has been fascinating to read all the accounts, opinions, and theories surrounding an historic campaign.

Before November 4th the use of digital technology, YouTube, mobile phones and specifically the my.baracobama social network, was widely recognised for playing a pivotal role in mobilizing support for Obama’s campaign. Looking back who would have thought two years ago that an American election would become a text-book case-study on how to use ‘new’ technologies to fully engage with an audience? Jemima Kiss’s article in today’s Media Guardian, has a great overview of the campaign and highlights the significance in the intimate dialogue that these new communication channels encouraged between candidate and voter.

Now that the lines of communication have been drawn (in twitter feeds, profile posts, and YouTube videos), Obama will need to keep them open and, crucially, transparent. As David Carr points out, in today’s International Herald and Tribune, Obama is now in control of a powerful database. By using this effectively, we will witness a monumental shift as a previously apathetic public now participate in politics, in real-time.

Adam Ostrow’s article on Mashable (published on the 5th) makes some interesting predictions on how Obama can maintain momentum, and continue to involve the electorate from within the Oval Office. It was a relief to see that Obama’s camp is committed to the intimate engagement they championed on the way to the White House, with the launch of Change.gov this weekend. It will be interesting to see how this commitment plays out. I particularly like Ostrow’s “Call to Service” idea; a social network acts as a facilitator to plough enthusiasm and energy back into community projects. (I imagine this would be invaluable come re—election time, as voters will have felt the benefit of an Obama administration close to home).

With such a high-profile ambassador for the power of engaging with an audience, Obama’s victory will hopefully have a knock-on effect for PR and the way businesses communicate with their customers (and not just inspire game designers). David Carr quotes Ranjit Mathodar in his article. Mathodar wrote a fascinating essay in March, on Obama’s approach to digital technologies, and in the IHT article he makes a valid point “”When you think about it, a campaign is a start-up business”. So why shouldn’t start-ups and mature businesses adopt a similar approach? As proven by the election result, opening up a dialogue, maintaining conversations, and giving an audience the tools to make their voices heard can yield very positive results.


The BBC has posted a story on the Obama Super Mario World game today (which I’ve been playing a lot recently. It’s hard to resist a game that is both reminiscent of my formative SNES years, and also lets you jump on lipstick wearing pigs).

Anyway, the reason I’ve posted again is at the bottom of the story the Beeb reports how the Republicans are responding to Obama’s victory. They have a new found appreciation of the web and all it offers for gathering grass-roots support. It’s going to be an interesting four years…


One Response to “Obama victory + social engagement = ?”

  1. Jonny Bentwood Says:

    Good article

    The best summary I read simply stated: 2.0bama

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