Do politicians really understand how to use social media?Those of us versed in these new ways of online communication know that any political figure who can truly and completely adopt social media methods would have a formidable secret weapon in their arsenal. A weapon that would have to be adopted across all the battling parties or they would quickly fall by the wayside. Obama has come the closest at showing the world how to effectively use social and new media in a political campaign with great success. With podcasts, viral videos, twitter streams and Flickr groups there seemed to be no corner of the Internet where Obama wasn’t being talked about. Who knows how much of this was actually orchestrated by Obama’s people themselves? Does it really matter? The conversations were happening and it seemed Obama’s supporters were the most clued up as to how to keep the ball rolling. Here in the UK, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party has been dabbling in social media too. You may have seen ‘Webcameron‘ and his Twitter feed. He certainly has the people around him capable of pulling this off. Hell, he’s even young enough to make it look like his idea. Take a look at both parties current web presence though and you will see their pages filled with MySpace style jibes. Social media should be used more for engaging rather than bickering.
I’m intrigued to see whether Reuters‘ forward thinking in getting us in to exercise our social media sinew allows some of our uses of this tech to rub off on others.After myself and Sizemore documented Gordon Brown’s visit to the Reuters head office in London. Ilicco (Head of Reuters mobile) thought we should take it a step further for a visit by David Cameron. So, on the morning of the 15th of December at 10 am, a team of UK social media practitioners were in position to document Cameron and the day in more channels than are usually exercised. This time the team had grown. Behind the scenes we will now had the technical support of two very well known social media mavens, Nik Butler (@Loudmouthman) and Phil Campbell (@PhilCampbell). As Nik used some code he had built to trawl the twittersphere for questions and comments relating to Cameron’s talk, Phil Campbell was at the digital helm of his invention Rezpondr at http://Newsmaker.Rezpondr.com. On the Reuters side of things was @Chris_Parker and @MarkJones manning @Reuters_co_uk Myself and Mike were on the ground as last time. Taking pix, shooting film, streaming live and using our Mac’s to live blog the mornings event.
We got enough coffee inside us prior to Cameron’s arrival to be able to extract as much as possible from the 60 minutes at our disposal. I had my N95 for Qiking, my iPhone for tweeting pix, my Kodak Zi6 for HD video blogging, my Nikon D3 for raw pix and new to the arsenal a Nikon D90 equipped with an Eye-Fi SD card streaming photo’s straight into my Eye-Fi flicker account. Obviously it was a bit of a struggle using all these devices at once and some will argue that I could have consolidated some of this kit as certain items are able to multi task. That may well be so, but this was a test. We were once again undertaking an experiment in extreme social media. Here to make mistakes, then, all going well, learn from them. We had an amazing array of technology at our disposal and some hugely capable minds to tie it all in. All this so as the people excluded from the opportunity to participate could truly be a part of the conversation. In the future this will be the norm and we will wonder why it took so long for politics and journalism to catch on to this. Oh.. and in answer to my initial question. No, not really.. but some of their aides will no doubt do it for them.