One More Lesson: Commitment

Yesterday, my good friend Steve Borsch wrote, as he always does, a very insightful piece on Connecting the Dots. Lessons From Our First “Social Media” President highlighted many aspects of the Barack Obama campaign for President and it’s obvious social media strategy.

One lesson learned that went without much notice was that of the need to commit to social media fully. Make no mistake, the Obama campaign was a well oiled machine in it’s use of social media. However, I noted a few lapses in the execution of that well thought out plan.

The biggest lapse, that of inviting people to sign up to receive a text message when Obama chose his running mate, implying being “the first to know”. I still feel a sense of betrayal when that text was received…around three in the morning. We may have been some of the first to know, but 3am? Sounds like executing an obligation rather than telling a friend.

Steve also shared the email that ‘Barack’ sent just prior to his Grant Park acceptance speech. It was a wonderful note that should be shared by all involved…yet it hasn’t been posted on the Facebook page. In fact, as of this writing, the last note on Facebook says, “There are still a few hours to make a big difference in this election.” while the MySpace page is current. As Steve pointed out, “you can’t let a friendship wane and then call on that friend in your time of need and expect them to be there for you.”

Admittedly, these are some incredibly minor issues. Ones easily overlooked and overcome. What I’m trying to point out is that any kind of organized social media involvement requires a huge committment. To do it right, and I think the Obama campaign did it pretty damn right (they could have shortened their list of target applications), a committment of time, money and human resources must be made.

The social web never sleeps. People are always coming and going. The conversation continues and that means you have to participate…often.

Steve also notes, “Don’t stop the conversation.” The battle may be won but the war continues. Is this truly the beginings of an ongoing conversation or the end of a marketing campaign? The coming days, weeks, months, and years will determine if Barack Obama truly is the first “social media” President or just the first “social media” Presidential candidate.

One last thing. I would be remiss if I didn’t applaud Steve for noting how much the election of the best candidate to the highest post in our country was not about race. Like Steve, I paid little attention to the color of now President-elect Obama’s skin, thankfully, much as the rest of the country did the same. We continue to make incredible strides against racism in this country. It’s ultimate conquering will be signalled by our ability to talk about accomplishments by anyone without making a reference to their skin tone.


  1. Mike Keliher says

    For what it's worth, I believe the 3 a.m. text message was indeed an attempt to "execute an obligation." The decision was being (had been, whatever) leaked to and reported by the news media, so the Obama camp had to act quickly to fulfill that "first(-ish) to know" promise.

    Also, there's perhaps a unique challenge politicians face in this realm, that of the legal division between campaigning and holding office. It's too bad that Obama's last Facebook note was from before the election was over, and I'm not suggesting this division is the cause — but it's something to consider either way. When a candidate is running for office (even reelection), the funding and the staff are legally separated from the publicly funded operation of the politician's elected office. Some staffers use two laptops and two BlackBerrys to satisfy the need for separation.

    As I said, that's not necessarily what's at play here, but it's certainly something to think about for a politician's staff: How, if at all, will "ownership" of these accounts, these messages, these *relationships* transfer from campaign season to governing season?