One More Election Marketing Secret

Last Updated Nov 4, 2008 8:02 AM EST

  • Voting line.The Find: One more last minute marketing lesson from election '08: social media and an army of self-appointed citizen journalists now make it impossible to hide polling place chaos - and by extension your company's dirt.
  • The Source: Former Washington Post editor Craig Stoltz writing on his Web 2.Oh... Really? blog.
The Takeaway: Just in time BNET has up a great feature on the marketing secrets of campaign '08. Meanwhile, over on the Web 2.Oh... Really? blog, Stoltz is offering both an election prediction and another lesson that's broadly applicable to management. This election day Stoltz foresees:
A paralyzing info hell as a rickety, distributed, incoherent, often incompetent, long-invisible voting system is exposed to the harsh light of Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook, iReports, youReports, themReports, cell photos, almost-real-time blog postings and whatever self-interested data-motes are broadcast by, um, legit journalists on the national networks on TV and online.
Considering the smoldering voting controversies of the the '00 and '04 elections, Stoltz's prediction doesn't seem like a stretch, and if he's right, legislatures and courts are going to have to devote some serious time to sorting out the mess. (Stoltz is also predicting "litigation and a long postponement of official results.") But if you're more manager, less politico, what's the takeaway?

In short, social media has reached the point where there's nowhere to hide. All the communication tools mentioned by Stoltz could just as easily be used by your customers to broadcast their dissatisfaction with your product or service. Just look at the popular blog Consumerist, which advocates for disgruntled consumers and shames wayward companies, even crowning a "Worst Company in America." (Congratulations to winner Halliburton and runner-up ChoicePoint!)

Momentum has been building for awhile, but it looks like this year, in politics and perhaps in business, we've reached a tipping point where social media is poised to bring to light long hidden abuses and inadequacies.

The Question: Transparency might reveal that election day is "a freaking mess," but in the long run the bright light of public attention in probably a good thing for our democracy; do you think the transparency born of of social media will eventually be a good thing for business?

(Image of ridiculously long voting line by Canadacow, CC 2.0)

  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.