Saturday, November 22, 2008

The President-Elect's Social Media Grade - So Far

Barack Obama, since winning the Presidential election, has indicated that social media will be a part of his presidency, just as it was a part of his presidential campaign.

In the 18 days since he was elected, he has launched, the Web site of "the Office of the President-Elect" and has done two weekly addresses via YouTube on the ChangeDotGov channel.

So, how is he doing? = B -

The most impressive part of is the speed with which it was launched, just two days after the election, on November 6. But what about the content?

1) It has a blog that is updated almost daily and often multiple times per day, meaning the site is giving a reason to users to keep coming back. (You can sign up for an
RSS feed for the blog.)
2) The blog posts incorporate video from the ChangeDotGov YouTube channel, as well as photos, making it (albeit slightly) more visually compelling.

1) The blog does not accept comments which, as far as I am concerned, means that it's
NOT a blog and is instead simply a series of press releases written in more conversational tone and listed in reverse chronological order. Boo.
2) While the site encourages visitors to submit their comments on agenda issues , these comments are not able to be seen by other visitors to the site. In fact, it's unclear what will become of the comments. What then, is the motivation to submit? Peter Kim recently wrote on his blog that the incentive for social media participation is the "activation of the feedback channel - that others agree, disagree, share, favorite their content." What is the incentive when the content seemingly falls into the abyss, never to be heard from again?
3) This same sense of an "abyss" applies to the site's "An American Moment: Your Story" feature. What are they going to do with this content?

ChangeDotGov YouTube Channel/Grade = B-

Barack Obama is alternately being compared to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — pretty good company to keep. The FDR comparison was only heightened with the launch of Obama's "Weekly Address from the President-Elect," which is being compared with the former President's Fireside Chats, which were used to provide comfort and motivation to the country in the midst of the Great Depression.

1) Posting content to YouTube encourages its viral spread, particularly because of the feature which allows users to cut and paste code to embed it on their blogs, social network profiles, etc.
2) The "Inside the Transition" videos from transition team members, particularly the video from Heather Zichal, a member of Obama's Energy and Environment Policy Team, are great. Heather responds directly to comments that have come in on (so,
THAT's how they're being used), helping to communicate that the new administration really just might be listening.

1) Both comments and ratings have been disabled. Is someone afraid of a little honest feedback?
2) Barack Obama is a great speaker. There's no doubt about it. But his style in these Weekly Addresses is all wrong for the medium. I know, I know, he's President-Elect and he needs to present himself as "presidential." But we already let him know that we think he's presidential by electing him to the Office. Now we're counting on him to change what that means. Obama? Yeah. Relax a little and come out from behind the desk. Give us a reason to want to share them with our friends — our friends who don't suffer from insomnia.

Do you agree that Obama could be doing better with his social media efforts?

1 comment:

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