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Social Media and Political Campaigns

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For weeks I’ve been drawing comparisons to Obama’s campaign as a business model. As part II of a three part series, I’d like to address the ways in which Obama taught business leaders how to recruit effectively and enhance workplace productivity through the use of social media.

In my last post, I established that Obama’s social media and networking strategies were unbelievably successful marketing and PR techniques. But if you think about it, they were also brilliant recruiting techniques. Here are three key highlights:

1. myBarackObama.com – By creating a private label online community, Barack Obama enabled his campaign supporters. He gave them the opportunity to self-organize, promote, recruit, and share their stories with others. Community organizers who found success recruiting locals in New Hampshire could easily share their best practices with other organizers across the country. Supporters could blog about why they were voting for Obama, thus contributing to a growing list of “selling points” for the candidate.

In business, HR employees would greatly benefit by executing similar practices. Create forums that allow different branches of a company to share effective recruitment practices. Start corporate blogs that allow potential hires to read about why working at your company is favorable. The use of community and transparency will ultimately lead to greater efficiency and a greater talent pool of employees.

2. “Project Houdini” – The Obama team developed and deployed “Project Houdini,” a program allowed the campaign to know exactly who had voted (and more importantly, who had not) on ElectionDay. Volunteers could use the program to go out and round upnonvoters. The names would then disappear off the list once peoplewere identified at their local polling stations.

Deploying, tracking, reporting, and issuing reminders andcertifications. Sounds like something almost every large corporation’sHR group has or should have —a learning management system. Having a system like this in place allows for greater communication and transparency which in turn allows

3. Multi-channel Social Media Activities – In addition to the myBarackObama.com online community, the Obama campaign used public platforms to engage and recruit voters as well. They generated videos on Youtube (over 1,000), created facebook accounts on 17 social network sites, and made sure to keep the content frequently updated.

We’ve seen companies like Deloitte create YouTube videos, Ernst &Young recruit on Facebook, and brands post job listing on Twitter. Companies who are looking for a young, talented applicant pool are only a mouse click away from finding what they’re looking for. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is simply getting started.

Having observed Obama’s campaign over the course of the past year, I’m excited to see the campaign’s strategies carrying over into the transition period. In the first five days after Obama was elected, he launched change.gov, which received 144,000 job applications in a few short days. I’m hopeful that through continued use of social media and community-based strategies, the new administration will continue to mobilize and inspire Americans to participate in a better, stronger government.

In turn, I hope business leaders follow suit and implement some of their own social media strategies to increase productivity, expand their workforce, and save costs.

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