Thomas Gensemer from Blue State Digital pioneered cause-related community building. He came to international prominence during Barack Obama’s first run for president in 2008 where he organized the presidential election campaign’s web activities, social media and introduced digital methods for servicing active communities.
“I think a lot of chief marketing officers over the past couple of years spent a lot of money to get lots of fans on Facebook. And they’re realizing now that they’ve no idea who these people are, and they have no idea what to do to drive them to action. They may have got them through a contest or giveaway, and then they are just there, with low engagement rates…’
So what principles carry through from political to corporate brand communication?
‘Not using separate media, but how it all hangs together: a relationship that starts on Facebook can become part of your storytelling experience – and the actual experience of engagement.’ Gensemer’s other key principle concerns the organization of communications: ‘You can’t go for three weeks to get a message out. Your Facebook calendar can’t be built six months in advance down to a granular level of “this is the message of the day”. Because if you’re not responding in the news – even if it’s not about you but your sector, then you’re not servicing the relationship and people will look elsewhere. Changing bureaucratic tradition is often the first step.”
Read more about Thomas Gensemer and his digital career in Pioneers of Digital.