Tweet the Power!

August 15, 2009

Twenty years ago, the rap group Public Enemy dropped one of the greatest rap songs of all time, Fight the Power! It appears two decades later, my brothers and sisters from across the pond have begun to fight the power via twitter.
Gordo brownOver the past week, I’ve been trying to master social media in the UK, it turns out that Gordon Brown,  Britain’s Prime Minister, would provide one of the best examples of social media mobilization campaign. The Leader of the Labour Party has begun to defend Britain’s National Healthcare System (NHS) by joining a Twitter campaign defending the health service from attacks by Republicans intent on derailing President Obama’s healthcare bill.

Britons angry at the attacks have organised a campaign on the micro-blogging site, which has also been joined by the health secretary, Andy Burnham. The social networking site crashed yesterday with the volume of messages for the #welovethenhs campaign.

twitterIt is because of a social media tool like twitter that this cross continental campaign is possible. This will no doubt be an exciting exploration of how social media tools impacting politics. This situation wasn’t created in a vacuum but a culmination of several factors.
UK is an engaged social networking community. Of the 34 million internet users, 27 million actively visited a social network site. However, individuals in London are leaders and are even more actively engaged. The city was recently declared as the new twitter capital of the world. The city has embraced the idea of creating a community on line to share and communicate. They have taken it a step further and have mobilized to influence change and stand up for themselves.
Moreover, this situation has generated additional attention because of the use of traditional media as well. Brown and other ministers have begun campaigning on American soil giving interviews to tell and share their story and not let the country be exploited and misrepresented unfairly by the hard right.
I can’t help but wonder would American’s collectively rise up against another country via social media? I doubt most Americans would rally around just one issue in another country. We all know the exploits of the Obama campaign to use social media to secure the election. However, this case should serve as a solid reminder to US politicians to remember that politics are no longer local, but global. 2009 may serve as another summer where we’ll see power may belong to the people as you gotta Tweet the Power!


Presidential visit to Africa + social media = new lasting relationships

July 12, 2009

Barack Obama makes first visit to Africa as president

Barack Obama makes first visit to Africa as president using official social media and mobile messages to increase participation.

One of the world’s most influential leaders visits Africa and social media is extending the buzz created by the trip and maybe something more substantial than hype?

A new lasting relationship between the U.S. and nations in Africa started through social media. The modern version of the pen pal.

In the blog post “From Creating Buzz to Creating Lasting Conversations” the author makes the case that “a company entering the South African market and looking to make a long lasting impression, it is a good idea to first identify and market to, through and with value-added influencers to leverage the full potential of social media marketing.”

The point is the visit of an influential leader President Barack Obama is a flash point to further grow the conversations taking place in the social networks and provides other companies or political candidates to ride the buzz to build their own brands.

The African people are used to foreign leaders coming to their countries promising things and getting no results. Worst of all they may not even have a voice in the matter.

A visit by the president is not just official talks and a parade anymore, it’s a chance for participation with the president taking questions from Africa using Twitter and Facebook. With the growth of social media across South Africa and the continent average citizens have access to these tools and can be part of positive change for Africa.

Mary Deane Conners, Charge d’Affaires of the US Mission in SA praised news organization which had “provided an extraordinary opportunity for South Africans to engage through a social media platform with the White House.” President Obama will reply with answers to the “Questions for Obama” campaign.

What better way to get new Africans interest in social media than when the first black President of the United States visit the continent and for the first time it will involve official U.S. government social media and mobile messages.

People are watching his speech at U.S. embassies in the region, while others participate online via Twitter, Facebook, and the White House blog. According to the blog speech excerpts were sent out to thousands of SMS subscribers in Africa and around the world.

During the presidents visit organizers invited users to pre-send SMS messages via MXit, a South African SMS service with 14 million users worldwide.

During the presidents visit organizers invited users to pre-send SMS messages via MXit, a South African SMS service with 14 million users worldwide.

The U.S. government has set up a site where users can register to receive SMS (Short Message Service) updates about Obama’s visit and send messages and comments. The visit organizers invited users to pre-send SMS messages via MXit, a South African SMS service with 14 million users worldwide.

I know the President is on the ground in Africa for 22 hours and a speech, blog and a few SMS messages will not change the live of millions of Africans. It is to much to ask from centuries of upheaval that social networking and a man who has been in office for six months to change. But, this President has the credibly, Kenya was his father’s birthplace, and equally as important the star power and respect of the African people.

The much-hyped trip is expected to raise the level of local content and access to social media as a communication tool, and just may form new relationships that can improve the lives of millions of Africans.

You know the President’s recent campaign slogan and it can and will work to help Africa through the power of social conversation.

“Yes we can!”

Open letters to and

June 15, 2009


You had me at 12:01PM on January 20 2009 because you were up and running and ready to work. There were no excuses about being the new kid on the block, you simply stepped up and started to inform me about issues that matter and this new administration.

When I had to step up and do my bit to support the stimulus bill, you made it easy for me by providing me with everything I needed to make a decision. You clearly get that as parent, full time student and just generally busy person, sometimes I want to help but don’t have the time to start figuring out who my representative is let alone to draft a letter explaining why he/she should vote for or against an issue.

Your timing in delivering directly to my inbox all the information is impeccable. You make sure to provide the information I need when it is topical and even remind me how a certain bill or action will impact my backyard, making my job of active participation in this democracy so much easier. You get that I want to be engaged and you seamlessly facilitate my engagement across a range of social media platforms.

What I like most about you, is your willingness to meet me where I am. These days I don’t always check my emails so if I’m on You Tube I can see the Weekly Address or you’ll even come to my white on facebookFacebook page to keep me in the loop about important developments and give me a chance to touch base with like-minded people, without interfering in our vibrant discussion. I can even keep up with the President in pictures on Flickr or on the main Web site. It is good to have choices.

Bottom line, you provide the information I want, wherever I want to get it, on any given day. When the occasion calls for it you’ll even give me a choice of languages because you really want to me know what is happening. In short, you get it and that’s why you’ve got my attention and when it matters, my active engagement.



PS: The only thing you could do better in my book would be to get President Obama tweeting like candidate Obama did because sometimes 140 characters or less is all I’ve got time for!


Or should that be Michael I’m amused that you think you can impress me by touting your Twitter, You Tube and Facebook widgets on your front page. I don’t care that  Chairman Steele is‘listening to social media’ what I want to know is that he is listening to the American people and working to provide me with a viable opposition so that I can engage in the democratic process.

Surely there’s something fundamentally wrong with telling me about The State of the Website [sic] when all I’m concerned about is the State of the Union, especially with the Governor of Texas threatening cessation.

I don’t need your Web site to be trendy or to show off how cool you think Chairman Steele is. All I want as a prospective voter is to be informed about the issues and the GOP’s position so that when your nemesis emails me, touches base on my Facebook page or takes the conversation offline by inviting me to a town hall meeting with the President, I am in a position to make an informed decision.

Most of all, I want to be taken seriously, not patronized with a half-hearted attempt to ‘connect’ with me on a superficial level. Frankly, you just don’t get it.