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June 18, 2008

The Revolution Will Be Twitterized: A Social CRM Success Story

My latest article for BlackEnterprise.com focused on the role Twitter may have played in helping him win (presumably that is...) the Democratic party nomination to be the next POTUS. More importantly I wanted to point out to small business folks - those still on the fence about this web 2.0 stuff - why they should REALLY pay attention to what's going on here. After all, who would have thought that a black guy....with a funny name....and that particular middle name...who was unknown up until four years ago...with pastor issues... would be able to raise a quarter of a BILLION dollars...the lion share coming from ordinary folks giving small amounts... enabling him to defeat the two biggest names in his party (yes two) to win the nomination.? If you can honestly say you believed this could happen, you're under the age of 30 or your last name is Obama. I mean, how audacious is that???

But the savvy use of web 2.0 tools and strategies enabled Obama to win enough new friends and influence enough people to pull this off. Quite honestly, I didn't think I'd live to see this happen. And I know I'm not alone in this thinking. Which is precisely why this is a great lesson for those small business folks who also didn't believe this could happen AND still don't think social media can help their businesses. If it could help the black guy with the funny name get this far, I think you can find a way to use it to your advantage as well.

So if you get a chance check the article out. But one thing I'll point out here is a fundamental difference in the approaches to Twitter between the Obama and Clinton camps. Below is a small grid that shows the basic numbers:

Now many people focus on the big difference in the number of people following Obama over those following Clinton. But to me the more telling number is the big zero - for the number of people the Clinton campaign decided to follow on Twitter. To me this shows how Obama's campaign understood that the web is for collaborating with people. And the way to collaborate is to follow those who are following you, and even following folks who may not be following you. By doing this, you're showing those interested in what you have to say a display of courtesy. That, even if I might not be able to read and respond to every message you send, I will at least subscribe to you. The Clinton approach is more Web 1.0 - you listen to my message, but I'm not interested in yours. No conversation, no collaboration, not even a hint of it.

I'm sure there are a number of reasons why the Democratic primary went the way it did, but the strategic use of social media had a significant impact. Between the amount of money raised online, the overwhelming turnout at the polls and the high energy and emotion invested by millions of people, tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the rest have changed politics forever. But it's also changed everything else - including how we do business. So if Obama can use the social tools in his audacious run to be POTUS, why can't you use it to reach new customers?

Below is my Twitter "rant" from a recent show:

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