Twitter Election, NYT Keepsake

Posted on November 6, 2008

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This statement from a recent BusinessWeek article on the first "social media election" solidifies the power and significance of what we've just witnessed: "Part of the social media frenzy over the Presidential election is a reflection of the historical significance of the first African American running for U.S. President during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and while the nation is engaged in unpopular wars in two countries."

I grew up thinking that I would never witness anything quite as significant as my grandparents.  I thought I'd never see war or an economic depression, or terrorist attacks on the U.S. or a president that sparked as much passion as JFK.  I was wrong. 

The article in BusinessWeek goes on to talk about the power of social media in this presidential election, noting that it's the first election where that power has been harnessed.  By contrast, other articles have highlighted print newspapers selling out on November 5th.  Are the same people that documented their election experience on YouTube, Flickr and Twitter lining up around the block for a commemorative New York Times, or are their grandparents saving them a copy?

In the spirit of this blog, I want to quickly echo the sentiment that's been stated by so many others: there's a lot marketers can learn from how this election was run, and eventually won.  Why then, are headlines on the same day as these powerful "lessons in social media" news stories telling me that marketers are likely to do "more of the same" traditional media buying next year?  Sure, the state of the economy has everyone scared, but haven't we learned that it's smart to buy stock while it's down?

If the most unlikely candidate can harness the power of the internet and start a movement… encouraging masses of young GenXYZ voters (read: consumers) to engage and feel passionate about a cause… why shouldn't marketers at least try? 

My generation is feeling empowered.  We have just witnessed and participated in history being made (many for the first time).  So marketers: don't wait for the feeling to fade, find a way to extend that passion to your brand.

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