Barack Obama is being called our "first social media President" due to his use of online word of mouth marketing to be elected President of the United States. Those of us who have been proselytizing about social media to our clients and colleagues simultaneously feel an inevitable sense of validation and a tinge of fear (and frustration) as clients feel inclined to ask, "Why can't we do what Obama did?"
(Folks, Obama's marketing campaign cost $640 million and had the key ingredient of any successful word of mouth marketing campaign: a really excellent "product" with a great story to tell.)
But now what? How can he continue to engage with social media successfully once he is in the White House — and should he?
Four Reasons Why Barack Obama Should Continue to Engage with Social Media
Number One: The 2012 Election is Already Underway
The 2012 Presidential election started on November 5, maybe even the moment that Barack Obama took the stage with his family in Grant Park. He is going to need money and the same grassroots infrastructure to get reelected and there's no time like the present to get started.
Number Two: Young Voters
Young voters have disproportionately voted for Democratic candidates in the past two presidential elections and the Republican Party, as it focuses on rebuilding itself following its huge losses in this year's election, is likely to be investing in strategies to engage young people and sell them on the Republican brand. To retain their support, Obama, with millions of young people already in his camp, must rely on young voters to engage their peers — and younger siblings and friends — as word of mouth ambassadors by reaching out within their social networks on his behalf.
Number Three: His Network Makes Him Stronger
November 5 was not only the start of the 2012 election for President, it was the start of the 2010 congressional election. Obama's former colleagues in the Senate and House would love to have the support (financial and grassroots) of Obama's network. Knowing that it remains intact — and, perhaps, is growing in size and strength — gives Obama a powerful bargaining tool and people to call on and mobilize when he needs a helping hand to see his policies through.
Number Four: He Has Created Expectations that He Needs to Live Up To
When I talk to people about social media, I explain to them that I think social media has contributed to and is reflective of a change in the relationship between consumers and the brands with which they do business. Consumers have expectations that brands need to live up to to be successful:
1) consumers want brands to listen to them,
2) they want brands to be honest and transparent, and
3) they want brands to provide them with the opportunity to help them achieve their missions.
Obama, as a brand, lived up to each of these expectations, in part through the use of social media. If he turns his back on them now, by demonstrating that he is no longer willing to listen, to let them in, and to involve them in creating "the change we want to see," he will lose them and he will have demonstrated that "change" was nothing more than a campaign slogan.
Do you have any reasons to add to the list — or do you think Obama should shut down his Twitter account now that he's heading to the Oval Office?
It looks like he has already made that decision . . .