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FCW Insider: Lessons from the Obama campaign

WILLIAMSBURG, VA. -- Call it the Facebook factor.

One of the tell-tale differences between the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that Obama’s team plugged into every major social network, rallying millions of supporters, while the Clinton campaign was pretty much off the grid.

As a candidate, Obama was “a socially enabled, socially connected, socially aware, socially conscious leader,” said Barry Libert, author of “Barack, Inc.: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign.” Clinton, in contrast, “did something no one, including Emily Post, could have imagined -- she didn’t respond to anyone who tweeted or friended her,” he said.

Libert, a business consultant specializing in social technology, was the opening keynote here at the Government Leadership Summit, which is sponsored by the 1105 Government Information Group, FCW’s parent company.

Much of his talk was meant as a wake up call to government and business leaders who are steering clear of social media.

But perhaps the more important lesson might be learned from Obama Girl. That was a YouTube video featuring actress Amber Lee Ettinger performing “I Got a Crush…on Obama,” apparently in a suggestive style (the FCW Insider pleads ignorance).

Two key points about the video: First, the Obama team did not produce it and, according to Libert’s book, might not have been happy with the content; but second, the video scored 60 million viewings, so they couldn’t really complain.

The lesson here was that organizations must come to terms with the fact that they no longer control the message, Libert says. “People communicate in a way that matters to them, not in a way that matters to the enterprise.”

Rather than trying to control the message, organizations must learn to use the technology to listen to what their constituents or customers are saying. Never mind the Information Age: Welcome to the Relational Age, says Libert: “Every business or government is in only one business and that is building communities.”

Posted by John Stein Monroe on May 17, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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