One of our areas of focus this year is the effective use of social media / social networking tools. At this point, we are planning to write about Planet Money, and Nine Inch Nails (yay!), but we are starting the series with the Obama campaign.
Of course, we all know that Barack Obama was not the first social media/Internet presidential candidate, that was Howard Dean back in 2003-04. The Obama campaign’s strategy with social media was built off the template established by the Dean campaign:
- engaging supporters and organizers intimately and directly via social media
- drawing influence from viral, bottom-up marketing strategies
- depending on the aggregated impact of indivduals’ influence, Tipping Point style
Last week at my job, the day after Election Day, a co-worker and I talked about Barack Obama’s successful campaign, its use of social media and more to the point, what will be done with all the user data, access and influence acquired through the campaign’s social media initiatives? Now that Obama is president-elect, would he and his staff use these tools to promote his political agenda and perhaps lead to greater transparancy in the White House? Less than a day later, our answer came in the form of Change.gov, which appears to piggyback off of the success of the Obama campaign’s social media efforts:for a start, there’s a blog (not a great one, seems like rehashed media statements), a page inviting users to share their Election Day stories, and a link to official presidential transition documents.
Actually, the UK has been a pioneer in this level of transparency in government from back in 2003 with direct.gov.uk, the official website of the UK government, which provides documents and information to users. In this article from UK magazine .net, MP Tom Watson talks the future of transformational government and the Internet:
Government 2.0 is a dreadful term but I can’t think of a better one that adequately gets over the point that public services have got to be more personal and responsive to the collective voice of their users and that there’s a very big shift happening in the way people live their lives and use services. The public sector is not immune to this. It goes back to my original point about wrapping services around the user in a form that works for them.
It’s an early start for Change.gov, but a step in a very interesting direction for this nascent administration and its efforts to engage and motivate its supporters.