At this week's Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, there was a wide variety of content, but one of the more compelling presentations I caught was a Tuesday morning keynote speech by Jascha Franklin-Hodge, CTO of Blue State Digital, entitled "mybarackobama.com: The Secrets of Obama's New Media Juggernaut."
Notwithstanding anyone's political leanings (more on this later), the presentation illustrated many topics of real and immediate interest to anyone doing business in this day and age, especially those of us who use social media and the web to build business and connect with our clients and prospects.
Mr. Franklin-Hodge spelled out six core principles of a successful new media campaign:
1. Drive Action
2. Be Authentic
3. Create Ownership
4. Be Relevant
5. Build a Strong, Open Brand
6. Measure Everything
The first of these, "Drive Action," resonated most strongly with me on a few levels. First, as I look at our firm's website, which we're in the process of re-designing, I see many opportunities for improvement, and few places where a user is directed to "Ask us for more information," or "Get started now." Clearer calls and lower barriers to action help convert interest to action at the point where a prospective buyer is most likely to buy, and this was a cornerstone of the Obama campaign's web strategy.
Not only is "Drive Action" a mantra for web site design, however, it's worth considering in light of other business communications as well. I frequently get e-mails that SCREAM for action implicitly, but no explicit action is requested by the author, so time is wasted on communications (i.e., negotiating the follow-up) that accomplish little. For example:
Author: We need to meet to review this deliverable.
Respondent: Yes, I agree, let's meet. (READ: "Back to you, author!")
and so on.
GAH! Several cycles could be cut out of this communications loop by simple addition as follows:
Author: We need to meet to review this deliverable. I looked at your calendar, and it looks like you're free at 2 pm. Can we meet then for 15 minutes? Please let me know, and I'll send an Outlook meeting request.
As a result of this presentation, I am committing that I will be more cognizant of ASKING for action when I want it. There's a fine line between this and bossing people around, I suppose, but being clear and concise about what the next steps are, in any business communication, is critical to effective action. How many meetings do we walk out of without a clear agreement on who is doing what next, by when? Unacceptably many.
There were similar insights for each of the six core principles, and many great examples of beautiful, functional, effective design, but I must confess that for me they were diluted a bit by the partisan tone to the presentation, as illustrated by the following:
- From the presentation's tone and content, it would appear that Republicans are immune to social community-building, mired in a 1950s world of press releases and position papers handed out to fedora-wearing, dead-tree media types.
- Also, as some colleagues later suggested, I would also have been VERY interested to see a timeline showing how the Obama campaign's efforts were re-allocated from beating Hillary Clinton to beating the McCain/Palin Republican ticket (the presentation only focused on the D vs R segment of the presidential campaign).