Thursday, October 27, 2011

Obama's Gibbs on Social Media

“It’s all about the individual!” noted Robert Gibbs, former press secretary to President Obama. He was addressing the value of social media at the Council of PR Firm’s Critical Issues Forum held today in New York City.

“You need to give the time, energy and resources that are required to move the social media dial forward,” but establishing relationships with each individual is worth every inch of it. Gibbs was one of the leaders of the famous social media campaign that helped build the Obama groundswell in the 2008 presidential campaign.

“To establish these relationships requires lots of individual attention. But we need a community of people to say good things about us, and that must be cultivated gradually. That is the only way to get people to feel invested.

“At the same time there is a major advantage for us as well as the voters. It allows both to get information before others have it. We get keyed in on concerns that come out through the conversation,” Gibbs pointed out.

He cited critical rules in social media engagement: be transparent, offer something unique in the conversation, listen carefully and react to what you hear. Gibbs said that Obama will have a bigger staff on social media in the upcoming campaign than he had in the White House.

“Social media enables us to get people to tell us their stories, and if they permit, we can use those stories as validators of larger themes we need to get across, “he advised. “In fact, 2012 will be known as the Twitter election!”

Gibbs concluded that while it used to be that social media was an after-thought after all other techniques were taken care of, today it is the first structure the campaign sets up. Starting at the grassroots level is critical.

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