Much will be written about this US Presidential election, and I'm sure the analysis will bore most of us to death. I share the optimism and goodwill that being demonstrated all around the world, but I think that social marketers will take a very significant lesson from both the campaign and the result.
If Howard Dean proved that the Internet reached younger people and "main street" voters when he raised so much money online, then the election of Barack Obama showed the power of social networks, and therefore social media, once and for all.
From the moment the Hilary 1984 video aired on YouTube, with tens of millions of viewers, campaigns should have been on notice that something was different. More content followed, and while some candidates "sorta" posted standard TV clips others realized that this was the year when the power of connectivity was going to help shape opinion.
Blogs proliferated, and suddenly communities began to spring up around Facebook, MySpace, Mixi and other social networking platforms. Obama even took to Twitter like a fish, recognizing that social media provided him with the chance to personalize the campaign in a way never possible before. People wanted to participate, and the social media universe gave them the opportunity to do something, anything. By the way, did you see the Obama-08 iPhone app? Amazing!
Think about this in the context of your brands - in a funny way, they are like candidates in an always-on election with consumers. If you're not actively thinking about enabling conversations, personalizing relationships, and letting people participate - likely you'll finish up as the "other candidate".
Thought for the Day: Maybe it's time to realize that your brands are out there on the hustings in Consumer Land, and that they're likely to need some help reaching out to people.