By now you’ve probably heard how U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has utilized social media to engage millions of people throughout the country. Politics aside, entrepreneurs of any political persuasion can take away some valuable lessons from studying the Democratic contender's social media moves. Much of the focus has been on his use of popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. This is understandable as he has over one million fans on Facebook, millions of views for his YouTube videos, and is the most followed person on Twitter. But there are other important sites that his campaign has used that can help your business connect with people, find clients, and make millions of dollars.
Here are a few worth noting:
ScribD is a popular Web-based platform for viewing and sharing all kinds of electronic documents. So you can upload spreadsheets, Word documents, pdfs and many other kinds of documents. And the great thing is that your documents will get indexed by the search engines and begin showing up in results list when people search Google for information. Also people who like your documents can give them the thumbs up, download them, or even embed them on their website or blog, which helps raise your credibility and exposure. The Obama campaign has uploaded more than 60 documents to his ScribD account.
Ustream is a free service that allows anyone with a webcam and Internet connection to broadcast live over the Web. And while you’re broadcasting, those viewing your broadcast can communicate with you via instant message -- making it a truly collaborative experience. Your live streams are also archived for on-demand viewing. Obama’s campaign has close to 150 archived videos on their Ustream channel, which has been viewed more than 250,000 times -- adding up to almost 90,000 hours. Now this is a far cry from the millions of views for his videos on YouTube, but it’s a quick, easy way to connect with people in real-time that is growing rapidly in popularity.
With a growing number of people “tweeting” on Twitter, bookmarking sites using Delicious, commenting on blogs via Disqus, and performing other random social acts, it makes it hard to keep up with all the activities and conversations we’re having. FriendFeed makes it much easier for people to see what we’re doing online by allowing us to easily create a feed from the activities we perform on many of the social sites we belong to. So instead of having to go to several different sites on the Web to see what a colleague is up to, you can see it all in one location via his or her FriendFeed page. And they can follow you’re Web “adventures” as well. The Obama campaign has been using FriendFeed to make it easier to follow his tweets, FlickR pictures, YouTube videos, and blog posts.
Meetup is used by organizations, groups, and clubs to organize their in-person meetings. It’s a great way to get the word out about your events to people who may have common interests and would like to participate in group activities. People get event information, view member profiles, and RSVP to attend meetings. Meetup definitely makes it easier to share information, communicate with the membership, and manage group activities. Obama has used Meetup to encourage those interested in his campaign to get together, share ideas, and work with his team.
While much has been made of Obama's following on Twitter, Facebook, and other "mainstream" social networking sites, there are other lesser known sites he is participating in just as actively. MiGente.com is a great example of a social site Obama is a member of that doesn't have the hype of the larger social networking sites. He has close to 54,000 friends on the site.
MiGente.com is a social site dedicate to serving the Latino community. It's a great looking site with all the functionality of the bigger-name sites. What it does have that the other sites lack is the singular focus on the Latino community, the issues of importance to them, and content that appeals to their community. The Obama campaign has presences on Migente.com, BlackPlanet.com and AsianAve.com in order to connect with the people these niche social sites serve.
If you are trying to get a sense for how social media can be used to reach more people in a more meaningful way, you may want to take a second look at how Obama’s team has put it to use during this political season. Not just the popular sites, but sites like those mentioned above that aren’t as popular, but still reach huge numbers of people. And also sites that are popular in your industry, or are frequented by those you wish to do business with.
Just keep in mind we’re talking about social media, social tools, and their impact on clicks into meaningful, lasting business relationships -- not poltics.