Obama won the election - not social media

Obama won the election - not social media

Summary: The big snake oil spotlight shines down upon us brightly -- and justifiably -- whenever we try to credit social media with a success that isn't really a rightful success for it to claim


Once again, social media is taking more credit than it deserves.

I'm a proponent of social media for business and community benefit, obviously. However, I believe the big snake oil spotlight shines down upon us brightly -- and justifiably -- whenever we try to credit social media with a success that isn't really a rightful success for it to claim. The 2008 election, and President-Elect Barack Obama's triumph, is one such example.

Last night, a few conversations erupted on Twitter that ruffled my feathers. Obama had just finished his acceptance speech and while there was much chatter about this, there were also some voices chiming in about what a huge role social media played in this election. Yes, agree, to an extent. But then the claims when too far, when a couple of folks made comments that a portion of the win goes to social media. I slammed on the brakes. I calmed down. Then I woke up to some blogs making similar claims.

Yes, the candidates' technology understanding and platforms are important, but not the most critical considerations when election a leader on which we place our freedom and security, our health and wellbeing. Yes, the Obama campaign made great use of social media and viral marketing, from his own portal to his active Twitter feed. Yes, blogs are far more widely accepted as a form of news media now than four years ago during the last presidential election. But those people outside of the "bubble" were not getting their facts and figures from social media.

We have to remember that those of us deep in the heart of business and even Silicon Valley live online yet a good portion of Americans do not. We have to remember that while there is a large percentage of Americans using social networks, it still represents only a small portion of Americans, more specifically American voters.

Obama won this election. The fact that the economy was in disarray and that a mockery was made of Sarah Palin certainly helped. Yet Obama won on the merits of his platform, his ability to lead and inspire confidence in Americans who desperately needed to trust in someone after eight years of George W. Bush, the same Americans who believe in his vision for our country. Social media might've helped to communicate these issues but I feel strongly that these credit claims insult and take accomplishment away from the men and women who spent hours and hours on the pavement, at campaign stations, at phone banks, who reached out the majority of Americans that have never even used MyBarackObama.com.

Let's keep our eye on the ball, OK?

As an aside, social media did achieve something great last night -- it didn't collapse. Most of the major platforms suffered no downtime during the weight of the election banter. In a straw poll I conducted last night via my social networks, email IM, and so on, it did appear that even those people who used FriendFeed and Facebook and Seesmic -- the apparent most popular socnets for live results conversation other than Twitter -- were also using Twitter. The microblogging favorite did get a little wonky when everyone was reporting in that CNN officially projected Obama as the winner of the presidency, but the site recovered nicely. See, this is a claim social media can make.

Update 11/5/08 4:06 p.m. PT - For those interested, Dave Fleet provides a great analysis of this issue and this post on his blog.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Social Media DID Win

    Social media certainly did win last night. The part it played in Barack Obama's win may have been overblown by some, but the social media presences both candidates had played a huge part in communicating the issues to a large base of young, new or formerly apathetic voters who are big users of social media. Yes, Barack Obama's message of change and charismatic personality rallied these voters to stand up and vote; but he certainly knew how to use the right channels to do so.

    This makes me wonder how social media will evolve to affect future elections.
    • I think

      people will be more aware as time goes on that a lot of what bloggers say on the Internet is opinion and not fact. I'm guessing that there won't be as much excitement next time.

      But then again, I say that every year after American Idol finishes another season.....
  • Obama brainwashed the young voters

    It won???t be long before Obama???s goons will show up to demand higher taxes on hard working real Americans and small businesses.
    Now, the election unleashed Obama as a liberal serpent spewing Marxist venom that will destroy this great country.
    I???ve had very nice and pleasant dreams since Palin was put on the ticket, but that turned into a nightmare last night with Obama raping me and pillaging this country.
    May God bless America.
    Linux Geek
    • It's time for the divided nation to come together.

      A huge portion of the United States has festered for eight years, believing the 2000 election was stolen from them. W's ineptitude and poor policy aside, those folks were never going to support that President.

      It's time to rally behind this new President, despite the pain of loss for your candidate, or platform, or whatever.

      The problems facing the nation are enormous, and we CAN'T fix them without resolving to do so together. ONE nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
      • LOL

        You just went on a rant telling how millions of Americans were justified in NOT rallying around a president because they disagreed with him on fundamental issues, but when it's your guy, well, we should just all ignore our fundamental differences and rally around the guy because our problems are so enormous.

        Pot, meet kettle.
      • arround obama?

        How can you come together?
        He was paling arround with terrorists and he is an anti American socialist.
        Linux Geek
        • RE: You going arround & arround ? ....

          He is whatever you want him to be, you can call him whatever you want to call him. Come January <strong>HE</strong> will be the <strong>POTUS</strong>. Deal wit it. As for now, you can just call him <u>President</u>-<u>elect</u>, sir.<br>

          • Let's hope not!

            That is yet to be seen! He still hasn't proven that he is a US citizen by birth. Yes, he has a certificate of birth, but that is different than a Birth Certificate! I know this first hand. I have two children, born to US citizens overseas. They have Birth Certificates from the country where they were born, and certificates of birth from the US. While they are US citizens, they are not considered "Natural Born" citizens, hence, not eligible to be President of these United States.
        • As opposed to a Thief?

          Remember the S&L scandal of the nineties. If I remember correctly, Ayers had stopped blowing up buildings twenty years before that.

          If we don't learn to put the past behind us, we are likely to repeat it. Remember the past, but get over it as well.

          After all, my girlfriend happens to be from a country we were once at war with, guess that makes me evil too. And those filthy Brits. While we are at it, we should hate the Germans and French to, who cares that they are great economic partners now, or that they helped us out back during the American Revolution.
      • Wrong

        The 2000 election was not stolen--It was prevented from being stolen.
      • The time to come together was about 8 years ago

        Where were you when we were attacked on 9/11 ? The nation came together for about 2 weeks and then the media began piling on the rhetoric and propaganda.

        I have never witnessed such arrogance and outright blatant disrespect for a fellow politician than in Obama...he smiles and coily flips off both Clinton and McCain (look up the YouTube videos and decide for yourself).

        And I guess Obama's $600+ million war chest had nothing to do with his win either....no it's just his experience and great ideas that everyone believes in - by the way, can you mention one tangible idea he has??? hope, change, hope, change all while playing the political fiddle to a t.
        • RE: ...come together ...

          <font color=grey><em>"...by the way, can you mention one tangible idea he has???"</em></font><br>
          When you say something, say what you know. When you don't know something, say you don't know. That is knowledge.
          You cannot <a href="http://www.barackobama.com/issues/" target="_blank">open a book</a> without learning something.<br>
          You have a case of <em>neglected perception</em>, only see and hear what you want to.<br>
      • Look at Congress

        The incoming president may do a lot, but EVERYTHING is in the hands of Congress - a branch of government that just happens to be controlled by the same political party. Oh, and for the bigger social issues, etc., we'll need to wait until he has had the chance to appoint his preferred judicial positions. Oh, where has the seperation of powers gone - oh woe is me. But, then again, I expected to find Technology and related topics being discussed here, not this stuff. Oh, woe is me, will Windows 7 be good, where is Apple going, will the White House move entirely to Apple computers, where is Linux headed, so may questions, so many social responses!
      • Nation coming together

        I truely want a coming together but I still remember the wooden horse thingy with lots warriors inside. Do you recall reading of this chapter? God Bless America !!! I will hold my right hand over my heart...and I will display my flag to anyone in this world !!! Proud American I am......
    • Ahh the classic uneducated scare driven replubican rears his head.

      Being an independent, i see both sides of the complaints.. but the republicans are by far the nastiest in their attacks.

      McCain didnt represent me... bush did during the 2000 election... but after that he turned into a kid with his fingers in his ears screaming.. "lalalalallalalala i cant hear you" then doing what he wanted.

      He will go down in history as the worst president and maybe even the most contriversial.
      • Bookmark your post and this reply

        Obama's first public address will be an explanation of how he cannot implement his tax cut because Bush screwed the economy up so badly that the government needs that money to help the truly hardest hit.

        You heard it first.
      • Been_Done_Before is a moron.

        Oh boy. you are such an idiot, you rant about the lack of education, then prove what an uneducated moron you yourself are by your spelling errors and incorrect capitalization. Maybe it is you still in junior high school with your hands over your ears screaming "lalalalala".
      • Again --wrong

        The only thing wrong with Bush was that he couldn't run for a third term. Term limits are wrong anyway. They show a fundamental distrust of the people to elect their leadership. When we get somebody we like, we should be able to keep them as long as we want.
      • Independent or unaffiliated?

        Are you truly an Independent and registered as one or are you unaffiliated? Makes a difference.
      • If you're going to trash other people's educations

        ... you may wish to proofread your comments before you post them. Your grammar and spelling mistakes undercut your implied claim to intellectual superiority.

        If you can't manage to string together three intelligible paragraphs, why should strangers value your opinion?