Everyone knows the internet is critical to getting elected nowadays, especially after it played a crucial role in President Obama’s success. But you need to do more than just throw up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, said Obama campaign advisor/Twitter investor Chris Sacca (pictured on the left). At last night’s Startup2Startup event on “Government 2.0,” Sacca told the crowd that politicians shouldn’t just think of online social networking tools as “yet another proxy for advertising.”
“That’s what’s separating the men from the boys now,” he said. “Are you actually going to participate in the conversation?”
So who’s doing it right? Of course, everyone likes to talk about Obama — in the words of Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg, his campaign was “really run like a tech company.” She recalled attending the Democratic National Convention and being besieged by politicians and activists interested in using Facebook, then going to the Republican National Convention and “[sitting] alone in my room for three days.” [Update: In the comments below, the Republican National Convention’s Matt Burns takes issue with Zuckerberg’s portrayal of the RNC.]
But YouTube’s news and political director Steve Grove (pictured, right) argued that some of Obama’s advantage came from being the challenger, giving him more freedom to experiment and motivating more people to get involved. That underdog spirit may be helping Republicans now, he said. For example, on YouTube’s page for the U.S. Congress, videos from Republicans are now more popular than those from Democrats. And Sacca acknowledged that some of the Obama administration’s social media efforts since taking office have been rather underwhelming.
You can check out a full video of the event below the jump. (Don’t listen too loudly at work, though, because there’s a lot of profanity.) Meanwhile, I’ll let panel moderator Dave McClure of the Founders Fund have the last word. After Grove described Obama using YouTube to wish Iranians a “Happy Nowruz” (the Iranian New Year) as “interesting,” McClure responded:
That’s not interesting, that is earth-shattering. The fact that we have a black man in the White House with a Muslim name saying “Happy Nowruz” to the Iranian people — that is f—ing astonishing. … I cannot believe the change that we have experienced in less than 12 months.