The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

President of the Intertubes.

Posted by Rod Leland on November 7, 2008

“Undoubtedly Obama’s rise to the presidency will be studied for years to come as the textbook example of a new kind of electioneering driven by people and technology” -Ralph Benko, principal of the political consulting firm Capital City Partners, in Washington, D.C.

Barack Obama is now officially the president-elect of the United States, and it’s certainly no accident. Obama drew the largest voter turnout in a century.  He managed to awaken voter demographics that were dormant for many, many terms. Yes, he’s a great speaker, yes his platform is solid, and yes he’s riding the wake of a 20% approval rating for the current republican president. But what really won him the election?  The Internet and social media tools.

It’s no coincidence that Obama’s team at campaign headquarters is packed full of ambitious 20-somethings.  These same 20-somethings understood that this election is completely different because for the first time the Internet was massively, fundamentally, important.

So, Obama has a great website. It’s easy to read and navigate with a standards-compliant, clean, functional design.  However, every candidate has a website nowadays.  Where the real differences start to come is in Obama’s use of the free online social media tools like YouTube and Twitter, Barack’s use of different communication methods for different demographics, and probably most importantly, the creation of his OWN SOCIAL NETWORK.

Let’s start with the free online social media tools.  Barack leveraged all the major pre-existing Internet staples and built huge followings within each. The important metrics (at election time):

125 THOUSAND Twitter Followers (the most of all twitter users, ever)
100 MILLION Youtube Views,
865 THOUSAND Myspace Friends,
and 2.6 MILLION Facebook supporters.

It should also be noted that Obama’s Youtube channel has close to 2000 videos and in the final days of the election new videos were being released at a rate of roughly one an hour.

I think those numbers speak for themselves.

These are tools a vast majority of us already use and love.  When we can show support for, and interact with our presidential candidate, it helps immensely to build personal brand.  It’s certainly very cool to “be friends” with Obama on MySpace or receive a Tweet from Obama thanking YOU for helping to elect him.  This is why building personal brand becomes so important to help with Obama’s message.  He wants to drive home the point that every single voter matters, and the use of social media re-enforces this.  These relatively simple, passive tools that can (and most likely are) run by members of Obama’s team help personally connect voters to their candidate.

Barack and his team also used individual communication methods to contact different demographics.  For the younger voters, text messages were the weapon of choice.  Appropriately, for the older demo, clearly-worded, short, concise emails were sent out.  The personalization of campaigning helped Obama reach each generation in the best way.  In past elections, a TV spot goes out to everyone watching TV, and it’s much tougher to customize your message for a specific set of people.

picture-8On to Obama’s own Social Network. launched in the middle of February and by the end of his campaign had 1.5 Million accounts.  The social network launched pretty much without bugs and feature-complete showing again, that Obama’s team was CRUSHING the web aspect of his campaign and know the do’s and don’ts.  Through this social network, Obama’s followers arranged their own rallies, meetups, and contributed a vast amount of money that helped fuel Obama’s campaign.

In another show of web prowess, just a single day after being named president-elect, Obama launched the Obama-Biden Transition Project (as the organization is legally known) under the domain  Obama and his team know that keeping their followers in the loop via the web is not optional anymore, and this new project is a perfect example of the fact that Obama is committed to pursuing this view not just in his campaign, but in his presidency as well.

(Props to Techpresident for the killer metrics.)



Posted in Buzz, Digital Culture, Geekdom, Tech News, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Twitter Could Save Your Life.

Posted by Rod Leland on September 24, 2008

Twitter. It’s likely you’ve heard the name thrown around on CNN, by your friends, on the radio, or just overheard someone talking about it.  ‘Twitter’ is much more than a word that may be quickly disregarded as a catchy avian onomatopoeia. It’s an Internet site, a social network, a recent online phenomenon…and it could just save your life.

Twitter, (as googled) would warrant the searcher something like this:

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

Sounds simple enough, right? It can be.  Twitter is simply a way to keep connected and informed about what’s going on in other peoples lives.  This is carried out through checking in a browser, or using a client to access the same information.  However, a website to tell people what you’re doing isn’t all that exciting or groundbreaking. Similarly, a website relaying information about what Susy thought of that movie or how Sally met a cute boy has an ice cubes chance in hell of saving your life.

The plot thickens a metric shit-ton when you add in everyone’s mobile phones. Twitter can be used via a cell phone.  Now before 95% of you shout at me about not having data on your phone, calm down: It can be all done using SMS, or for the less acronymically inclined, TEXTING. Again, before you start, Its nothing like Facebook. If I had a car for every time I was asked “Isn’t that just like Facebook” I’d be rolling like Leno. The difference is in the details.

Let’s set up a totally valid situation for an example.  You’ve just finished seducing a member of the opposite sex far outside your league successfully after an unhealthy dose of courage thanks to over consumption of adult beverages.  Second-base-dancefloor-debauchery leads to a mutual agreement to leave the venue to pursue aforementioned goal of sleeping with this complete stranger.   In infinite wisdom the decision is made to drive home.   During the walk stumble out to the car you receive a text message from “21212” saying “Checkstop on (insert road unavoidable on the way home here)”  Thankfully, you have twitter linked up to your phone, avoid the obvious disaster of jail,  grab a cab, and still manage to score.

Facebook wouldn’t have messaged you to tell you that, and even more importantly, someone you have never met wouldn’t have messaged you to tell you that either.  Twitter pushes down the messages to your device (“active”) whereas you would have had to suffer through facebook’s mobile interface and checked everyone who was out at the bar that night’s profile to find this information (“passive”). Not feasible.  That’s also assuming someone would have had the foresight to update their status to something helpful in that situation.  Additionally, (in most cases) random helpful user would have had to head home to do this. Sending a quick text (just one) that ends up being viewed by everyone who’s interested, however, is a pretty powerful idea.

Yes, often times Twitter can be relatively mundane banter about service at a restaurant, or a roadtrip or a missed class, but when you take everyone utilizing twitter together and add the instant, active, push-notification attributes of the service, you have a tool that can be leveraged for MANY uses. In the tech world, we would say it SCALES to many situations.  Recently, an earthquake hit the L.A. area.

“Twitter co-founder Biz Stone notes that the AP pushed out its first wire item on the news 9 minutes after people were already tweeting about it on Twitter. The first tweet about it came mere seconds after the earthquake started.”

This is the cool part. Just about everyone carries a mobile phone. Twitter transforms millions of people into first-on-the-scene reporters with the facts. Sure, it’s not the most reliable source in the world and one message isn’t enough to confirm or deny a school shooting or volcano-no-longer-dormant but most of the time, the volume of tweets can filter out any misinformation.

My grandmother and Aunt/cousins are still without power after being run over by hurricane Ike.  The day after Ike hit, I leveraged twitter to find them Points of Distribution, the first stores open, fuel for generators, and other important information about surviving in the wake of hurricane douchebag.  Most (99%) residents had no power, but the cell towers stayed up, and updates started flying in about what was going on where in Texas.

The whole global twitter network can be queried for keywords.  I don’t follow anyone in Texas, but in this case I used “Ike”, “Conroe” “POD” and searched EVERY PERSON ON TWITTER.  That’s over 2.2 million people. When I found this info out (again, instant, firsthand accounts) we called it down to Texas.  No power means no TV, and radio stations are slow enough that by the time they had announced a new POD, they were already out of Ice and water.  By searching for first-hand, instant updates from people who are IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, I gained insight ahead of everyone else, and helped my family survive a natural disaster.

Call it crowdsourcing, social networking, or whatever you like. In the end, it may be finding out a friend enjoyed a movie, avoiding a speeding ticket, or surviving a natural disaster, but the power of instant, first-hand, easy-to-post updates and information from millions of people everywhere and anywhere in the world might just be more powerful than you had thought.


Posted in Digital Culture | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Perpetual Connectivity in Everyday Life: A Challenge

Posted by Rod Leland on September 18, 2008

Disclaimer: I’ve taken it upon myself to write in a slightly more sassy manner.  Half because I think it’s easier to get what im thinking out of my head if I don’t have to adhere/conform to academic standards, and half because I find academic writing boring. SO, if I curse or temporarily disregard common grammar conventions, it’s for the better in my mind. Disagree? Email me. Remember: Content is king. On we go, A think-piece for y’all.

The vast majority of us are connected online.  Many of us spend a whole lot of time online.  There are some individuals, however, that fall into the category of the ‘perpetually connected’.  I’m one of those people.  I get anxious and somewhat lost when I’m away from the cloud, unable to check my email, read my news via RSS (See image, right), or text my friends.  Come to think of it, I often get a bit jittery when things are quiet on twitter.

Connectivity in today’s age is more than just being online on the internet as well.  The type of lifestyle I live is of the never-turn-your-phone-off, paying-too-much-for-the-top-internet-tier, 3000-texts-a-month, 6-email-accounts, 800-unread-RSS-stories, first-to-know, last-out-of-bed, digging, twittering, flickring, deliciousing, gmailing, most-friends-on-facebook, variety.

Not everybody is this plugged in but to some extent we all have some perpetual connectivity in our lives.  Think about the last time you, reader, continued on a conversation that began online, in person.  You’ve done it. I know you have.  The bizarre part is that we don’t really think about that kind of interaction as odd or cool, it just is.  Our forms of communication are so many and so varied that for the most part, all of us have been forced into adapting to this type of lifestyle.

So I utter a challenge to all of you with two simple goals in mind:

1)    Seriously realize and take note of how connected you are
2)    Note, record, think about, or just process your interactions or conversations that cross mediums.

So my challenge stands.  If even once you find yourself saying ‘damn, he’s right.  We started talking about this on (facebook, twitter, texting, FB chat, email) and now continue on the conversation in person without thinking about it.’  Then my job is done.

The one big change I see as a result of the ability to be connected all the time and cross seamlessly between communication mediums is that the average, semi ,or even somewhat-connected group of people DON’T PLAN SHIT ANYMORE. No one knows what’s going on that night because it only takes a couple minutes to call/text/tweet/message everyone.  Imagine having to make all of your play-dates a week in advance like our parents did?  All I can say is I’m quite content being voluntarily tethered to the cloud.  Are you? Do you even know how tethered you are?

Think about it.


Still Coming soon: Social Mesh Networking and Natural Disasters.

Posted in Digital Culture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »