Social government as a concept may well be a farce or a fallacy. A campaign slogan and a campaign promise. And an empty one at that.
Obama ran on a platform of Yes We Can. But when he got elected the chants were Yes We Did, not Yes We Are. Because social government is a pipe dream that is unviable in the present political landscape. And yes, I am a registered Democrat who has voted in every major election I was eligible to participate in.
The Obama campaign demonstrated incredibly savvy use of social and digital media. The Obama presidency's record in social and digital was lackluster. YouTube Town Halls were a token gesture. But the administration failed to meaningfully address most of the popular petitions on WhiteHouse.gov, including a "no comment" type response to the #2 petition with over 52,000 signatures.
It's time to accept a reality: Social Government is not feasible in the political status quo. Politicians generally do not jump on hot button issues unless it is core to their platform. Politicians who avoid hot button issues of importance to their constituents (even if it is only a fraction of them) are not ready for social government. If any brand were to ignore the comments of their fans the way that this administration avoided the feedback of their public, the brand would be slaughtered.
Isn't it sad when we expect more of our breakfast cereal and fast food than we do our presidency?
But it's not just social government that is a pipe dream. Social campaigns are as well. Every social marketer can tell you that communities do not live and die with marketing campaigns. Even presidential ones. Yet few politicians seem to be as tuned-in to the public once they are in office as they were during their campaigns. In this past election was saw how quickly the Obama administration tuned out their digital networks. Text messages all but stopped coming. Communities went virtually dark. Momentum died on the vine.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...
The US public will not fall for a second or third attempt at promising and not-delivering on social government. I recognize that social government poses incredible challenges to leadership. But if you can't make it work once you land in office, we're going to stop falling for it when you flaunt it on the campaign trail.
I'm all for the candidates jumping on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+. But I am unwilling to accept their silence when they get into office. Community and social media are not about the campaign. They are about the community, the country and the dialog.
The new presidential voice and image does not involve tight message control or a perfect posture at all times. The new presidential voice embodies mutual trust and respect of we the people, your public, our community. And if you don't recognize this fundamental shift, good luck with your next campaign.