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Pay Attention to the Use of Social Media In Politics

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After tonight's Democratic Presidential Debate, John Edwards will use Ustream and answer questions submitted by viewers. Ustream is a platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. This use of Ustream is very innovative and should be quite exciting to watch.


I believe that all marketers should pay attention to the implementation of social media by the politicians. Why? Because we can learn from them and their adoption of the technology and tools will help us all drive the use of social media into our companies.
Recently on Marketing Voices, I interviewed Peter Leyden, the director of the think-tank called New Politics Institute.

Peter used to be the editor for WIRED magazine, and Peter tells me how the use of social media will decide the outcome of the election. He feels social media allows the candidates to touch audiences in a way they never could before ( e.g. Edwards' use of Ustream).
I agree with Leyden, and I will be watching Ustream on Monday night just to see how well the Ustream technology and Edwards work together to achieve the end result of building a stronger community and base of support for Edwards.


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Jennifer Jones is the creator and host of http://www.marketingvoices.com/ Marketing Voices™ , a weekly video/audio podcast for PodTech.net providing fresh perspectives from marketing and technology leaders examining how social media is impacting the world of marketing.

Jennifer is a 25-year technology marketing veteran. Her career is broad and diverse: she was a marketing partner at Mayfield, a top-tier venture firm; a founder of her own successful marketing consulting firm working with venture capital firms, investment banks and attorneys including August Capital, Canaan Partners, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Goldman Sachs; an executive vice president and general manager of Regis McKenna Inc, a consulting firm where she led the marketing programs with Apple and Intel; the creator and host of the first television show in technology called High Tech Visions and a broadcast executive with CBS News affiliated stations.

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  • by Lewis Green Mon Jul 23, 2007 via blog

    Jennifer, I agree: We marketers can learn something from politicians using social media. Unfortunately, we likely will learn mostly how to manipulate it for our own ends. I don't think we marketers need to learn more of that. My hope is that we can launch and employ social media within business as a way to have a conversation, not as a means to get more votes by manipulating readers or listeners. Lots of good can come from giving voters (customers) a voice, if we listen. Some of that good will result in increased brand exposure and sales, as long as we don't screw it up.

  • by Chris Yeh Mon Jul 23, 2007 via blog

    The challenge and opportunity that Ustream represents for politicians is the need to reverse decades of political habit to return to the roots of democracy. In the era before mass media, politics was a live event--politicians would take the train from town to town, trying to appear live before as many voters as possible. In those days, politicians needed to be quick on their feet, adaptable to their audience, and capable of projecting a very human charisma. Mass media, especially television, changed all that. Now, the premium is on scripted ads, and nearly scripted "debates". Politicans that venture beyond the scripted are considered mavericks...yet the social media revolution demands interactivity, participation, and authenticity. If social media forces politicans to open up and start listening, it will have been one of the most important forces for political reform in the past half century.

  • by CK Mon Jul 23, 2007 via blog

    "If social media forces politicans to open up and start listening, it will have been one of the most important forces for political reform in the past half century." I've penned about this in my corner and I concur. The reason that politics has gone so awry is because we've let it go awry...not sure why that is never brought up (in fact there are more people, of voting age, in the U.S. then in the entire gov't.). If we allow mediocrity and manipulation then we get just that (unfortunately). I do hope that Social Media will be used to give those--outside of business--a voice. I'd like to see that democracy in play...and I sure do support better politics that listen and serve the people. While CNN/YouTube debates are one example, I hope it's a huge step to get more involved, more asking questions and more pressing for better answers.

  • by jennifer jones Mon Jul 23, 2007 via blog

    Thanks everyone for weighing in on this topic. I really believe that politicians are trying to listen. Maybe I am being a bit of a Pollyanna about this potential, but I think social media tools are forcing a candor and listening environment that we have not had previously.

  • by Mike McKinnon Tue Jul 24, 2007 via blog

    Great post Jennifer. I wrote about his very thing a couple of weeks back with Thompson and his YouTube video (http://www.readytalk.com/community/blog/2007/05/30/politics-goes-web-20/). The question remains: will politician embrace the openness of social media or try to fit their traditional media buys into social media?

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