The vandals took the handle

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The end of governing as we knew it?

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Still on the subject of Barack Obama, it strikes me that his stunningly successful use of social media has immediate implications for government at all levels world wide.


Firstly, there is not really a Democratic party member moving into the White House.  Instead, there is brand Obama.  Until now, political parties have provided candidates with brand identity, ground troops, money, a means of fund-raising, networks and relationships with businesses, industry and community organizations, unions etc.  However, Obama already has those things via his extensive social media links into all areas of life.


At the click of a mouse, he communicates instantly with tens of millions of people who have registered to talk regularly with the president elect on Twitter, Facebook ,, MySpace or his blogs. 


As the International Herald Tribune put it:


Obama understood that you could use the Web to lower the cost of building a political brand, create a sense of connection and engagement, and dispense with the command-and-control method of governing to allow people to self-organize to do the work.


“All of the Obama supporters who traded their personal data for a ticket to a rally or an e-mail alert about the vice presidential choice, or opted in on Twitter or MyBarackObama, can now be contacted at any time at a cost close to zero. And instead of the constant polling that has been a motor of presidential governance, an Obama White House can use the Web to measure voter attitudes.”



Tellingly, Obama didn’t make his first election night comments on TV or radio. 


As he had done throughout the past few years, he first sent out a message to his social media base – continuing the on-going conversation that he carries out  daily. And he continued to include these people – who had raised unprecedented amounts of money, attended the rallies and worked to get out the vote – in the task before him.  The message told these people that “there is a lot of work for us to do” and promised to “be in touch soon about what comes next”.  This conversation with the people is unprecedented and incredibly powerful.


Because Obama raised his money via social media, rather than the traditional channels, special-interest groups and lobbyists now face a president that owes them nothing.


Similarly, the traditional media will have to contend with an administration that can take its case directly to its base without even booking time on the TV networks.  This direct communication  is, in varying degrees, being followed by government bodies and agencies world wide.


In the UK for example, government bodies, local councils and even No 10 Downing Street itself have changed their communication-by-media-release style into an ongoing conversation via Twitter.  Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull have followed.


 There is no doubt that we are in a new era of two-way conversation between the people and government.  Obama will obviously use his web of social media links to bring people directly into the governing process. And just watch the rest of the world follow his lead!!!


The International Herald Tribune again:

Any politician who fails to recognize that we are in a post-party era with a new political ecology in which connecting like minds and forming a movement is so much easier, will not be around long.”

Ian Roberts


Written by ianandsue

November 20, 2008 at 1:17 am

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