Social Networking White Paper

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There is a new paradigm shift in technology that was powerful enough to help Barack Obama get elected as President of the United States. That paradigm shift is called social networking. This white paper has two purposes. First, it is to help you understand the fine points about social networking. In order to do that, I will use the recent Presidential election as an example. Second, the purpose is to help organizations understand the most effective way to implement this new technology. Some attempts have failed because they did not do a good job of defining their goals or

Text of Social Networking White Paper

  • 1. How Social Networking Got Barack Obama ElectedA FTI Global White Paper By Mike GraysonPresident FTI Globalwww.ftiglobal.com Copyright 2009 FTI

2. Introduction Contents There is a new paradigm shift in technology that was powerful enough to help Barack Contents ............................................................ 2 Obama get elected as President of the Introduction ...................................................... 2 United States. That paradigm shift is called A Powerful Technology ................................... 2 social networking. Communication is Expensive ......................... 3 Social networks are a new and dramatic What Social Networks are Not ........................ 4 change in the way people communicate. A Nation Connects ........................................... 4 They have drastically reduced the costs to Cash from Connections................................... 5 organize large groups of people with a How it Works .................................................... 5 common interest while at the same time harnessing the power of the group to achieve The Critical Question ....................................... 6 specific goals and objectives. The Benefits ...................................................... 6 Case Study Events and Groups .................. 7 During the 2008 Presidential election weCreating an Event .......................................... 7 saw the impact of social networking at a national, perhaps a worldwide, level.Select an Event .............................................. 8 However, we have just begun to understand Where McCain Got it Wrong............................ 8 how to use this technology. Facilitating the Social Network ....................... 9 Comparison of Solutions .............................. 10 In the future, social networks will impactFree Solutions .............................................. 10 our day to day lives in many ways, including how people search for and consumeWhat Works and What Doesnt.................... 10 information, market products and servicesOther Canned Solutions .............................. 12 and run political campaigns. When largeBuild From Scratch ...................................... 12 groups of people work together toward a Our Suggestion .............................................. 12common goal, big things are bound to Summary Next Steps .................................. 13happen.A Powerful TechnologyThis white paper has two purposes. First, it is to help you understand the fine points about social networking. In order to do that, I will use the recent Presidential election as an example.Second, the purpose is to help organizations understand the most effective way to implement this new technology. Some attempts have failed because they did not do a good job of defining their goals orCopyright 2009 FTI 2 3. understand how to implement this newUnderstanding the details of the process is technology. very important in order to map out a winning strategy. The most import aspect of a social network is the common interests of the participants. Communication is Expensive These interests can range from sharing photographs to organizing to solve problems. In the past people have communicated with one another using one of two models: Broadcast Model Let me give you an example. Health care is Telecommunications Model a big issue in the news. Nobody wants a child, or anyone for that matter, to suffer because they cannot afford health care. The Broadcast Model allows one source to communicate with many. This is a one-to- Now, lets say a group that had a commonmany method of spreading your message or interest to care for the sick that did not have information. For example, television, health care began a social network. Theynewspaper, and radio all use the Broadcast decided to invite people from all over theModel to disseminate their information. country and established local community Even most websites are a one-to-many form groups. The groups could be made up ofof communication. EMTs, doctors, nurses, or anyone who just cared and wanted the problem solved.There is no two-way communication in the Broadcast Model. The flow of information Next, the social network would invite is always one way. anyone who had a health problem to bring it to their attention. The response to the The Telecommunications Model is the problem could become almost viral insecond model currently in use and has been nature, with many people working together around for a long time. This is a one-to-one to solve the problem. The members would method of communicating your message. volunteer advice, support, and perhapsThe telephone is a perfect example. resources to help the individual. Two people interact with one another The networks could arrange meetings and sharing information. It is possible to have events to do everything from health two groups communicating via a telephone screening to vaccinations. They can workon a conference call but the stake-holder in together to solve problems at a community each group may not have equal access to level and everyone would benefit. communication during the conference call.The same process could be used to solve all It is easy to see that there is a high cost kinds of problems: unemployment,and/or inconvenience using these old education, almost any problem.methods when attempting to get thousands of people in a large group involved in the Social networking is powerful! However, communication process on many different the technology is a tool that has to be levels. However, this is something that integrated into your overall goals and what social networks can achieve. your organization expects to achieve.Copyright 2009 FTI 3 4. What Social Networks are NotPeople can introduce their ideas and discuss them with others. Many people are confused about social As you can see, there is often a fine line networking. Some think they are already with regard to how technology is used and involved in it when they are not. They miss it could be as subtle as whether or not an the subtle differences that make it unique email includes an invitation for social compared to other forms of communication. interaction. Social networking is not a newsletter. A system that invites and encourages social Newsletters have no interaction. Even if dialogue and interaction defines whether or your newsletter has links and someone not it is a successful social networking clicks on the links and their response is model. measured this is still not social networking. It is broadcast communication. A Nation Connects What you are doing is providing information in much the same way it has been provided During the recent presidential campaign, not in brochures for years. Clicking a link only all of the candidates understood the value of takes you to more information. There is a social networking and some failed to lack of exchange of information and effectively use this most valuable tool. The interaction. failure to do so impacted both fund raising and the ability to get votes. Information websites are more of the same. They are usually just the electronic version The statistics show that Obama was way of a brochure on steroids. The website will ahead of the curve in understanding and have more information than a brochure but it using social networking as a tool to enlist fails to provide the aspects of social supporters. interaction.Email and text messaging were extensively used in both the Obama and McCain campaigns. If the email or text message is informational in nature, then it is not really facilitating social interaction. However, if it is invitational in nature, meaning you are invited to participate in an event, share in some information, provide feedback or become part of group, then it is being used as a social networking tool.Blogs may or may not be social. If they justIn July of 2007 Obama had almost double record the thoughts of someone, then they number of visitors to his web site (717,000) are not social. However, if the thought iscompared to his next closest Democratic thrown out and comments are solicited, then colleague, Edwards (437,000). an active social dialogue can be achieved. Copyright 2009 FTI4 5. Obama was 600-700% more effective thanrecord numbers of donations of less than most of his Republican adversaries. In the$200 each. chart shown, John McCain had the lowest number of visitors with 104,000.This has been a paradigm shift of major proportions. Any politician who fails to When you examine the effectiveness of properly harness the power of social attracting visitors to his site by using social networking will have an uphill struggle networking techniques, there is little doubtagainst an opponent who knows how to why he unseated his toughest opponent establish and facilitate such a network. The within his own party, Hillary Clinton.same can be said for business and marketing efforts. The statistics clearly show that social networking is a powerful technology that How it Works has impacted the fate of a nation for generations to come. Here is how a social network operates. I know Bob, who knows Sally, who knows Cash from Connections Joe, who needs someone like me to do a job. Joe finds out about me and offers me the Using social networks in a politicaljob. campaign has also allowed the candidates to amass huge amounts of cash.It has been difficult to get the exact amount but it appears that Barack Obama collected $641 million in cash, a large part coming from his Internet based social network, while John McCain was only able to collect a little more than half that, $360 million. The problem with the old methods of communication is that in the real world the connections between people are hidden and unseen. It is like a group of people waiting at a bus stop and not realizing how they are connected with one another. It is true that McCain abandoned public fina