In both the press and on blogs, much was made during the last election cycle about the mobilization of the grass roots to push Obama over the top. Even more was made of his campaign's savvy use of new media to motivate and engage voters to act.
A parallel meme has been floating out there among social media consultants and PR people about the ROI of social media implementation for companies and organizations. The uphill battle to convince the more set-in-their-ways decision makers can make SM adoption a frustrating sell, one that suffers from unfair and misguided comparisons to the old ways of doing things, such as direct mail, print advertising and other forms of top down communications. Spend a little time perusing the terrific blogs of good writers like Jason Falls, Amber Naslund and Mark Story and you will see what I mean. (And you'll also learn a lot.)
What do these two things have to do with one another, you're probably asking.
Despite what a lot of us would like to think, what happens in the Oval Office in particular and in Washington in general DOES have direct consequences on our day to day lives. I am not talking about waging wars or raising or lowering taxes or passing bills to make mountain lion hunting legal only on third Wednesdays of months that begin with the letter "A." (Hey, there MIGHT be a law like that for all you know.)
Presidents set the tone on many issues that influence our business lives and interactions and it seems to me that the incoming Administration has the potential to be a real boon to those of us in social media who have been beating our heads against the wall in trying to get others to see the light as it pertains to the adoption of new media into PR and marketing plans.
The story of Obama's usage of these tools during the campaign has been well told. What remains to be seen is how his Administration will keep the new media home fires burning. There have been a lot of pie-in-the-sky predictions, but as Mark Story points out, there ain't gonna be no Wiki White House. But that's OK. In the embedded video from Mr. Obama's most recent fireside chat, he outlines 5 things that need to happen right away:
- Make Federal builidings more energy efficient. (Something that will likely trickle down to the building industry at large.)
- Upgrade roads and bridges.
- Upgrade our schools, both in terms of their physical plants as well as technologically.
- Broadband. "It is unacceptable that the US ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”
- Connecting hospitals and medical records via the internet to cut red tape and cut down on medical mistakes.
Note that points 3, 4 and 5 all involve technology, internet and broadband and this message was delivered via the good old fashioned radio, but also YouTube and iTunes.
It is my contention that these tough economic times as well as this kind of leadership from the White House bode well for the implementation of social media strategies for all kinds of businesses, organizations and brands. But don't try this at home, folks. Make sure to consult your social media doctor before taking any prescriptions. The harmful side effects brought on by unsupervised new media dabbling can be painful.
Just ask Motrin.