I know the party leader debates are not strictly about business or the enterprise, but the use of social media in these debates is a great example to non-political organisations who might be exploring the importance of how to use these tools for messaging.
What is clear, in the case of politics, is that you can’t make a message go viral by just posting it out there into the ether and hoping it’s passed on. All three major political parties have been posting videos and blogs for months, but not many have paid much attention. In fact, for a lot of the party political videos, the woeful viewing figures in hundreds, or low thousands, can be accounted for by the party faithful alone.
But the blend of the TV debates with online discussion has fuelled a whole new level of political debate in the UK – and just look at what has happened to the Lib Dems over the past week because of the combination of a strong TV debate, then strong support online on the blogs. Leader Nick Clegg went from zero to hero, and possibly back to zero if any of the mud being slung at present actually sticks.
Think back five years to the last election. There were no TV debates. There was no social networking allowing news and information to be immediately passed around the world instantaneously. Sure, the papers were online and we had email, but who appreciates their in-box being filled with even more junk?
We are witnessing a transformation of the political process. It’s more transparent. It’s more direct. It’s more of a dialogue with the people, rather than a one-way promise of what might be in future.
Hang on a moment, that sounds like most companies just dipping a toe into social media and interacting directly with their consumers. Do you think that politics is ever going to go back from this level of interaction and openness? So, why do you think consumers are going to accept less from the companies they deal with?
It’s not rocket science is it? If a bunch of politicians can get used to this type of communication then why are highly-paid executives still claiming they just don’t need it, or even worse, don’t have the time?