Interesting

Today is an important day in the United States.

A new president has just been sworn in and it seems that the underlying theme of everything that Obama does is “hope.” Much has been said, written and discussed about the value that social and online media brought to the Obama campaign. It has been said that social media was the reason he won the election. While I think that it had a huge part in connecting him with people who were hungry to feel a part of something special, it took more than social media to elect him president. It took the right message at the right time. It took reaching out consistently online and in person.  It took a team of excellent speechwriters and a group of intelligent advisors.

It also took understanding the community. And I think that is why Obama was able to use social media tools so well. He didn’t see the American people as his “audience,” he saw them as his people, his community and his fellow citizens.

He created a dialogue. He turned us (even those of us who can’t vote) into evangelists who helped to spread the message. He made us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. He created a digital tribe that had no boundaries and was made up of people of every race and of every religion – we were all different and that was celebrated. We all belonged and can all make positive change in our world and the world around us.

No matter where he was or what he was doing, he was interacting. He was listening. He was connecting. He had a blog, he sent out email blasts and he was on Twitter. He was everywhere and he was listening. I think that it’s been a long time that any of us in Canada or the U.S. have felt that politicians care what we think.  Many of us have never had this experience – it is new, fresh and exciting.

He has the right message and he understands who is a part of this conversation – all of us. Obama’s approach is inclusive, something that has been lacking in politics and our leaders for a long, long time.

Social or online media only provides tools, it’s how you use them that matters. All of the candidates had access to the same technology and tools that Obama and his team had.  It’s just that Obama understood how to use them. It’s obvious that he likes the connection that technology provides. When he won the election, he was picked up by the cameras emailing and texting on his BlackBerry. Reaching out is natural to him. It is a part of who he is.

Today he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America, and Barack Hussein Obama had to hand over his BlackBerry. I bet he will go into connection withdrawal. How he personally connects with people will change – the Office of the President demands that. It will be interesting to see how he handles this aspect of his new role. Of course, Obama seems to see things as they could be. So as the most wired president in the history of the country, it will be worth watching to see how he blends technology and communication with the duties of President. 

Read more

Well, the blog post below “The Big Three Don’t Get Social Media” certainly got some attention. Creating respectful, authentic discussion is what social media is all about and, with a couple of exceptions, it seems that this is what is happening here.

Not everyone posted what they do for a living, but it is interesting to note that most of the comments here come from those involved in online/social media and/or the auto industry. Scott Monty of Ford posted and he also mentioned this post on Twitter, which sent several more people over. I did find it interesting that, at times, the thread on Twitter got a little personal. Rather than agree or disagree with my comments, the conversation focused on my using WordPress, how long it took for responses to be uploaded (yes, this is a moderated blog), and how many followers I have on Twitter. I am not sure how relevant to the conversation those points are. To me, that seems a little like saying I don’t like your shoes, so I am not going to have a conversation with you.

I want to clarify that this post was not a personal attack on Scott or any other communicator that works in the industry – in-house or as a consultant or contractor. That wasn’t my intent and I sincerely apologize if that’s how it came across. Communicators don’t have easy jobs and I think it’s great that Scott is on Twitter and on blogs.  And Jim is right, they deserve credit for “playing in the sandbox.”

Having said that, in my opinion, I don’t think that they really get it. Several posts here told me where I can find GM and Ford – on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs. With the risk of raising the wrath of these good folks again…just because you have a frying pan doesn’t make you a chef. I think we all have a lot to learn – including from each other.

My initial post focused on trying to find information on the bailout.  I wanted to see what was being said out there and what the car companies were doing. I took off my communicator’s hat and I did a basic search, not an in-depth search.  I work in communications and understand how to do a thorough search, but what I did for this was a search that someone who isn’t immersed online might undertake. And I couldn’t find any information.

What I find interesting is that a great many of the people that took the time to respond, came to inform me, correct me or take a little shot at me, but no one asked me anything. There was an opportunity here to perhaps identify and deal with a weakness in how people are finding the information that the automakers would like to share. I think that some of the people who responded were so busy defending their position that actively listening took a backseat.

There are a lot of people that want to know more about what is going on with the Big Three than what we read, see or hear in mainstream media. We want to hear from the people that lead the automakers and that work there. If the only website I found is thefordstory.com, my perception would be that I was being “talked at” not “with.” Perhaps there was an opportunity to put some links on the website to Scott on Twitter or other blogs or online venues where I could voice my opinion.

I don’t know the business objectives or the strategy behind that particular site, so I am making some assumptions. The average person doesn’t know, and probably doesn’t care, about the strategy. They want information and for their concerns to be heard. No matter what organization you work with, as communicators, these are the people that it’s important to speak to.

I certainly learned a great deal from this conversation. I would be interested to hear what others think.

Read more

Motrin and their ad agency Taxi have had their hands smacked pretty hard online recently over an online ad about Motrin and moms. There is some discussion online how the anti-ad campaign spread so quickly – and Twitter is getting some of the credit. Someone has also put up a video on YouTube that shows how mad the mommies are.

Ad Age has a good article on the issue and so does A-list blogger and social media guru Shel Holtz. They both have a bit of a different take on it. Ad Age talks about the power of Twitter and Shel looks more into the fact with online or social media, people that are passionate about a topic will find the time to be involved. Shel’s post is more about how we manage all of this information using the Motrin ad as an example. It’s definitely worth a read.

I think that each of the opinions of those listed above help to bring context to this story. Jennifer nails it when she says that Taxi, the US-based ad agency that produced this ad didn’t understand the market and maybe that is because after all, it’s only an online ad. Shel Holtz gives a whole different perspective and he made me think as well. And as for AD Age, they put this issue into context by talking about Twitter. While I am sure that Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Motrin, aren’t too happy about how quickly a story can spread online, the fact is, smart, engaged people now have the opportunity to weigh in and show us different angles. Professional journalists, bloggers and, in this case, moms have helped people all over the world to see a different side to this story.

The one thing everyone seems to have in common is that this ad insulted the target market (and I looked around, so if anyone can let me know if there are some people standing up for the ad – I would be interested to hear about it!).

As an organization, Johnson & Johnson is facing a strong consumer backlash and while it was bred online, it has gone mainstream. That’s not good for the company or the brand.  Online media now plays a strong role in the reputation of your organization, and it should be recognized and acknowledged. Online media is evolving and shifting how we live in our world, and more and more it impacts our professional lives.

 

Read more

Obama understands the power of online communication – and I don’t mean because he understands how to use twitter and LinkedIN and Facebook. He gets when and why to use it…he connects. He has conversations that are inclusive and engaging and they make each of us – even if we aren’t American – feel like we are a part of something special, something historic, and something real. By including us, he also makes us feel accountable, responsible and engaged. We now feel that we need to step up and do our part to change the world.

Once the election was over, I have to admit, I wondered what was going to happen to Obama’s web-values approach to keeping us on the team. As President Elect, he is now developing the strategy to transition into President. And as President, things change. According to a New York Times piece, he is going to have to give up his BlackBerry thanks to security issues and the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the record and ultimately up for public review.

I wondered how Obama would hold onto his story telling, inclusive, engaging approach that has inspired and excited not just a nation, but people around the world. Could he breakdown the barriers between old school U.S. government websites and the Obama way of Twitter, email and text messages? I have to admit, I had my doubts.

I shouldn’t have worried. Right after the election he launched a new site, that has all of the tone and feel of his old site, which now has a holding page that asks you to help the victims of the wildfires in California.

Obama built up a loyal following – a community, a tribe, a movement…whatever you call it, it’s obvious that being elected President of the United States of America doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to keep up the relationship. Obama is an exceptional example of a communicator. The Web was made for him.

It will be interesting to see what the YouTube loving President Elect does for online media while in office. I think the fact that he has embraced it and found success in using it, will help more organizations to see the value in it.

Read more

An announcement just hit my inbox that Air Canada is the first Canadian carrier to offer inflight Internet access.

The news release was out in early Oct, but Air Canada just announced it in their newsletter.

I think this says something about our culture. We are truly a wireless, connected society now. Thanks to Air Canada, we can still bid on Ebay, blog, buy books from Amazon and send emails while flying the friendly skies.

I can remember back in the day when you could first place phone calls on an airplane – at an incredible cost per minute! The first thing you heard someone say (and I admit it, I said it too) when the person answered was: “Guess where I’m calling from!” …. now it might be guess where I’m blogging from!

As minor a thing as this might seem, it does change how we travel.

Read more
%d bloggers like this: