Obama's White House: forecasts & challenges for digital America

by Jill Foster on November 19, 2008


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New media is no longer ‘new’
I want a new phrase to emerge from President-Elect Obama’s campaign and social media success. The term ‘new media’ just doesn’t satisfy current media vernacular anymore. Let’s create a new phrase! I vote for ‘complementary media conversation channels’. What do you think?! In this administration, ‘new media’ likely will be utilized as much as traditional mainstream outlets. And that context – added to his online campaign success – renders ‘new media’ new no longer. What was once considered new social media platforms will continue to intertwine with mainstream outlets for complementary (not new…) media and community.

Worth watching
With an Obama White House will come a broader and more embedded experience with social media for many American constituents. After raising over $650 million, seeing 500 million blog posts published about him – vs McCain’s 120+ million, and liberating a legion of online communities, the next president is positioned to make digital savvy communications more commonplace in government. No matter where one stands politically with the President-Elect, his next steps on this front will be worth the watch.

More thoughts on Obama 2.0: direct conversation channels
Even though media outlets, both mainstream and social, will complement each other’s coverage, Obama knows how to use social media to relate and generate conversation directly with Americans. He sees how he’s not solely dependent on television networks (or their high rates) to reach out. And with help from folks like Blue State Digital and more, it’s clear his social media tacts can enable communities to form over ideas (vs be limited to just broadcast tools). Just envision a weekly YouTube presidential address.

Digital media, strategy, and you
The administration will in my view create clearer overlap on how digital media works for both government and business. The need for strong, clear strategy will continue to be the uniting factor. What about you and your business? Can you envision how social media could increase direct access to your customers and their feedback? For example, Obama’s campaign knew who they wanted to reach online. With well-carved strategy, the campaign used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more to build engagement. It’s a strong example to observe and further explore how social media can engage your stakeholders.

Remember the 31 million
When blogging the Democratic National Convention this year, it was exhilarating to work with other bloggers to frame issues less apart of mainstream coverage. Yet one concern continued to weigh on our minds: what about those families without Internet access? With all of the blogger broadcasting and conversation launching at the DNC, the fact remained that at least 31 million households lack Internet access (and therefore were excluded from the online political conversation). And of those families, 44% do not see value in Internet access. From an opportunistic let alone political vantage point, this gap needs to be bridged for a truly inclusive digital America.

The new White House, you, and complementary media
Obama’s presidency will no doubt spark a greater application of social media and outreach inside and beyond government. Using social media tactics compatible with strategy, his presidential communications will continue to add credibility to digital outreach (and attract attention from those who want to replicate his success). It’s a fantastic time to learn and observe from this social media momentum aka the non-new suite of complementary media conversation channels.

(photo by Ayblazerman per Creative Commons, Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

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