Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Do Political leaders need community evangelists?

Absolutely! I’ve written on numerous occasions in the past how important political brands are. Check out this recent Fast Company article, which talks about how big a brand Obama is and how quickly he has shaped it in a span of a few years. And, so are the other political candidates’ brands – Clinton or McCain, both different attributes but similarly important

(Check out Obama and McCain‘s question on LinkedIn Answers. Guess who got more answers?)

Stowe Boyd’s rather inflammatory take on John Edwards’ absence from the social media twitterverse soon after his departure from the election scenario, tickled my curiosity. Boyd laments the dissappearance:

Proof of old politics wolf in new politics sheep’s clothing: they assume the ways of the new social web revolution as a means to come into contact with us, but when they lose (and maybe when they win, as well?) they drop the pretense of involvement, and go back to whatever they really believe in. Which is clearly not this new emerging whatever-the-hell-it-is on the web.

But then Stowe Boyd continue along the same vein asking the all-important question:

Will the winner of the race continue to use social media after installed behind in the White House?

And, let’s be candid here – it is gonna be challenging for presidential candidates to literally be present at all times on every other social media channel that sprouts each passing day, given his/her priorities of running a country. Having said that, I believe every political entity (senator or president) absolutely need an authentic representative or community evangelist/s in the social media universe. Why?

1. Analogy to community evangelists in the corporate space

As I’ve maintained in my earlier posts, it is not realistic to expect CEOs to maintain a blog. Having said that I know how important it is for a company to have a legitimate representative who’s a point-of-contact at various social media touch points. For e.g. As far as LinkedIn is concerned, you can reach me either on LinkedIn (d’uh), Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, my blog, the LinkedIn blog, etc… but I don’t know whom I should contact if I’d like to offer support or feedback to any of the three current political campaigns (feel free to leave a comment if you know who that individuals are). And, I’m not talking about the “social media accounts” that currently exist with faceless interns posting vapid commentary/schedule updates. (If you know of leaders actually updating these pages, leave a comment)

2. Why does it help having a real person represent a political brand

The same reasons it helps a company have a community evangelist. Two main reasons. 1. It humanizes the political brand – it helps having a turn-to person when you’d like to offer feedback 2. Crisis Management. Like in Edwards case, given all the brouhaha over his absence these days, it’d be nice to have someone from their campaign (it could be an intern) who actually responds authentically to social media mentions (like to Stowe Boyd or Craig Stoltz).

3. Why is it important?

This will happen, in much the same way social media has become a commoditized feature of many Fortune 500 companies’ marketing plans but more importantly because in politics more than in corporate America there’s a great need to sustain that human connectivity with the citizenry. The voting populace deserves both a response and conversation with their leaders and since a leader may get weighed down with the urgencies of a fast changing world, a social media savvy political evangelist/community evangelist/s who can do that for them are an absolute necessity.

What are your thoughts? Are there evangelists for the current three campaigns (Obama/Clinton/McCain) I’m not aware of?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

4 Responses

  1. Great post, man. I find myself trusting companies a lot more when there is an obviously public face. I think how accessible you, Steve, and the rest of the LinkedIn gang make yourself is more than a small reason you had an awesome year.

    But you’re right… I have no idea who a public point person would be for the campaigns. Whoever it is shouldn’t pretend to BE the candidate.

    I also hope the social media precense keeps going after the election. But I also realize there are a lot of things a President can’t Twitter… Particularly location-based updates.

    Like

  2. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, Adam. Appreciate it. Gonna twitter this now 🙂 ha

    I think there should be a level of authenticity with the candidates maybe kicking off a twitter campaign, saying: “we’d love to hear your thoughts- We’re starting a twitter account for that purpose-It’ll be managed by so-and-so, our chief social media evangelist” and – voila! – it makes more sense.

    I also think the future president, whoever he or she is, should appoint a social media evangelist to lead these efforts.

    Anyhoo… thanks, man!

    Like

  3. […] 1. Do political leaders need community evangelists? […]

    Like

  4. […] of you interested can check out my earlier posts on Obama’s leadership, his campaign’s embrace of community, other technology leaders supporting Obama (Craig Newmark, Pierre Omidyar, etc…), his […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s