In the United States, the past 36 hours have been a whirlwind of political pomp and circumstance as we watched President Obama get sworn in for his second term in office. Intentionally less dramatic than when he won his first election in 2009, more than 600,000 people gathered on the National Mall to bear witness to the historic event, while millions more watched from their living rooms or from their desktops.
A Digital Media Democracy
When I was on the National Mall in 2009, I had just bought my first iPhone. Just days old, it had already begun to change my life. I took many photos with it as I walked the streets of DC and it accompanied me to the Inaugural Youth Ball (an event for those over 18, but younger than 35) where I updated my Facebook status minute by minute to reflect the spectacle of the event.
Just a mere four years and many smartphones later, the digital media in our hands helped to transform how we participated in the second inauguration of Barack Obama. We saw iPhones in the hands of the Obama girls, while others took photos with their iPads, and many more tweeted, posted status updates and instagrammed from their mobile devices.
The second screen experience played a big part in the coverage of the festivities. The White House tweeted President Obama’s inaugural address line by line as it happened (while members of congress tweeted photos of Justice Scalia’s hat). Online, the event streamed live on apps and interactive infographics came to life. The event had its own hashtag. According to Twitter’s Government and Politics Team, there were 1.1 million inauguration-related tweets sent during the ceremony, up from about 82,000 in 2009.
Social Media, By the People, For the People
Regardless of your own politics, if you work in the enterprise, you should be taking notes from the inauguration’s social success. Not only is it a huge event that disrupts traffic, congests public transportation and requires tons of security — it is planned in relative short order and needs to be dismantled before the next day’s morning commute. Additionally, those covering the event have just as much time to coordinate their efforts.
Think about your company’s last event? How far in advance did your communication’s team plan their online strategy? Think about the last conference you attended. Was the event’s hashtag listed in the program guide or well known by many?
Whether it be while watching the Oscars or the Inauguration, you can best expect that the common people will want to unite through digital media when attending your annual conference or press event. Social media engages so many because it’s easy, it adds value to the experience and provides an opportunity to share and learn from others. Stop making social media, social business and social collaboration hard for your users. Embrace it and integrate it into your experiences, whether in person, online or in the palm of your hand.
That's an (executive) order.