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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Social Media and the New World Order

http://techgeist.net/files/2009/07/att-fail-small.jpgI recently presented a keynote about Yes We Did at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives in Raleigh, North Carolina. In fact, I originally wrote this post from the airport where my flight has been DELAYED and my internet wi-fi connection was spotty at best, despite paying $7.99 for highspeed access. Thanks AT&T. (Hence the delay in posting)

In spite of these developments, I am happy to say that I really enjoyed the time I spent in North Carolina, ACCE is an association of people who are genuinely interested in improving their communities. I met so many great people and had some wonderful conversations.

One of those conversations got me thinking about Social Media and its impacts on existing business models. I frequently get asked about how Obama’s social media strategy holds up post-election. Would the tools that were so powerful continue to have such impact after Obama was elected? Or was it a one time shot?

Despite rebranding Obama for America into Organizing for America, it seems the response in using the community building tools introduced during the election to help promote the Administration’s legislative agenda is having lukewarm results. Efforts to push Obama’s health care reform and stimulus packages have seen limited successes.

1. Tactics vs. Strategy

One of the major themes in Yes We Did is the importance of differentiating between strategy and tactics. The Obama administration is at risk of falling into the same trap that claims so many social media initiatives. Just because the tools for Obama for America proved to be effective in an election process doesn’t mean that they will have the same impact now that Obama is President. For one thing, now that the Administration is in power, the sense of urgency and danger has faded.

One of my jobs as an Obama Volunteer was to call supporters who were organizing events all across the country to make sure that they fully understood how to use our site’s tools and to offer any support or resources that I could. The one thing I remember is that so many people approached this election with a “do or die” attitude. That has now mellowed and I feel that most people, while very supportive of the President, have slowly faded back into a distant interest.

2.  Supporting Faulty Systems

The second thought that struck me was that maybe the lesson here isn’t to try and mold social media to fit business models. Instead, maybe New Media is indicative of a deeper social shift that is exposing the inadequacy of these systems, be it government or business, that can no longer keep up with the way that we communicate and participate with our community. So instead of figuring out how to get people to knock on doors or write letters to their elected representatives, maybe we should be examining the way we invite people to get involved in the political process.

Social Media isn’t a shiny new coat of paint to slather over an old, antiquated model. Social Media is a reflection of how we are evolving the way we communicate and are running into issues when we try and apply this new model to stagnant and out dated systems.

What do you think?

Comments: 2

  • Nic Slater

    October 5, 2009
    reply

    You will be speaking at our convention Nov. 27-29 and I am encouraging a dialogue to happen beforehand, so as to have a constructive experience.

    Having just completed my first social media conference http://webofchange.com/web-of-change-hollyhock, I am testing out some of my new found thoughts with you.

    Being one the participants who has not yet practiced professionally in running campaigns online, I suppose I am at a disadvantage. However it became clear over the course of the conference that experts in this field come from varied backgrounds and that the success of online campaigns can be very difficult to pin down. Every campaign has so many different issues, demographics,etc, that one’s success cannot be guaranteed from one to the next.

    One of the areas that we as an organization struggle with is the generation gap that exists and has been intensified by social media. Its as if we are at a tipping point age wise. We have not yet taken advantage of the social media opportunities because of a resistence to even go there based on this generational technology gap.
    So when we do finally get the buy-in for the social media, which will likely be based on a new and limited understanding, where will that leave us? Will that fear of chaos online pervade certain minds and in effect shut down the most important part of the process? And is that process capable of changing tactics or even strategy while the campaign is in play?

    In my world, the older the age group, the more apprehension there is that jams up that need to move into the world of social media. How we overcome this apprehension will determine whether we are successful next election process.

    Sincerely,

    Nic

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