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A Social Democracy: The White House learns to listen

A Social Democracy: The White House learns to listen

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Published by Brian Solis
Everything begins with listening and our government is not only learning to do so, but are also exploring means to respond and act through social media.
Everything begins with listening and our government is not only learning to do so, but are also exploring means to respond and act through social media.

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Published by: Brian Solis on Jun 21, 2011
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09/07/2011

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A Social Democracy: The White House learns tolisten
By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at BrianSolis.comand principal of research firm Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed book on social business 
We are now entering an era of sociopolitical influence, a framework for governments thatinfluences and is influenced by its constituencies through real life interaction and now, newmedia. Some may say that this isn’t anything new. Certain governments over the years embracedthe aspects of digital community in Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Many also believe that PresidentObama is the first “Social Media” President. I, however, am a far more pragmatic optimist.While many governments and also President Obama have embraced media to learn, interact, andalso influence citizens, we are merely at the beginning of a new age of digital democracy where people play an active role in government now and over time.One of the greatest lessons in social media is that everything begins with listening and such istrue for any form of leadership. Governments and their administrations have much to learn. Not
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
 
only are new media channels rich with insight, they are also interactive. There are people on theother side who have expectations of recognition, acknowledgement, and engagement. As such,the ability for information to come back represents a challenge to many top-down organizations.And, these challenges must be addressed.Information has historically traveled one-way, from them to you. But, now governments aren’tonly learning to listen, they’re exploring means to hear, respond and act. For example, eventhough the Obama team used social tools to engage with voters during the 2008 election, thechannels pushed more than they pulled. Allow me to clarify that statement. The Obama team pushed wonderful content and triggered aspirations and as a result, “pulled” record-breakingdonations to help Obama win the Presidency. This is something that I examined at great detail in2008 for TechCrunch.It’s a wonderful start. The Obama Administration also realizes that the 2012 election will also require that new media channels pivot from top-down to now include bottom-up communication that triggers the
A.R.T.
of social media: Actions, Reactions, andTransactions.Interactiveengagement is powerful. Without intelligence, however, the ability to transform digital citizens into active stakeholders will prove elusive. In the end, what matters most is that people feel that they were heard and that change was evident. For governments, it’s critical that people are also engaged and directed to take actions that trigger desirable outcomes. In additionto intelligence, social media requires orchestration and the ability to design programs andexperiences that positively influence behavior. By activating the human algorithm, governments can inspire a new generation of collaboration and productivity that accomplishes tasks, solves problems, and helps where help is needed. At the same time, the A.R.T. associated with newmedia programs will trigger a social effect that extends the reach of any political body or organization through the social graphs of engaged citizens potentially influencing friends of friends andaudiences of audiences to empathize with efforts and movements. In June 2011, The White House published a  blog postthat indicates change is in the air, “What Our Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers Told Us.”The post begins with a positive note that indicates that the White House is indeed listening insocial media:Over the past few months, we’ve been working to improve the White House’s social media presence to provide our Facebook fans and Twitter followers with timely, relevant andinteresting updates about what’s happening at the White House and around the Administration.The White House conducted a series of surveys with Facebook fans and Twitter followers askingfor their feedback on online programs. The two surveys received thousands of responses and theWhite House social media team shared the highlights.- 50% of Facebook survey respondents were over the age of 50, with another 35% between 35and 49.- The Twitter audience is younger, with only 32% of respondents over the age of 50.
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
 
- A combined 62% are over the age of 35.- 62% reported visiting the White House Facebook page at least once a week.- 93% read tweets published by the White House at least once a week.- A significant percentage of Twitter survey respondents are active on Facebook.- 80% of Twitter followers use Facebook weekly and only 30% of Facebook fans use Twitter weekly.- Over 50% of respondents from both surveys reported never using Flickr, LinkedIn and social bookmarking sites (such as Digg, Reddit, and Delicious).- 64% said that the frequency of Facebook posts is “About Right,” with 31% wanting more, andonly 5% saying that it’s “Too Much.” 61% of the Twitter survey respondents report that thefrequency of posting is “About Right,” with an additional 35% saying it’s “Not Enough,” andonly 4% saying that it’s “Too Much.”- Over 56% share White House Facebook posts on a monthly basis and 78% have shared at leastonce.- Only 35% of responders report retweeting @Whitehouse on at least a monthly basis, with only58% having retweeted at least once.- The top requested content includes news-oriented posts (Breaking News, the latest news fromthe Administration), interactive posts (ways to engage with Administration officials,announcement of live streams, quotes from major speeches as they happen) and the Photo of theDay.Additionally the White House social media team demonstrated transparency by also sharing thethoughts of fans and followers that reveal what they would like to see improved…
On Facebook 
“Add a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ area to answer most questions”“Please provide more notice for live streaming events. They are great, but only if you get to seethem.”
On Twitter
“I appreciate the idea behind tweeting quotes from speeches as they are given, but it might be better served on a Twitter account created just for that purpose. I receive White House tweets viaSMS and multiple tweets, and repetition gets a little annoying.”
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis

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