Last Friday I got invited to join a brainstorming session to help Newark City mayor Cory Booker using social software. Why was this meeting different than yet another celebrity or politician tweetering and Facebooking? Most social networking executives were in the (packed) room to help (and pitch) Cory on how (and why) he should use these tools.
See the incredible gathering around Cory:
Look on the other side of the room:
Cory Booker is very active on Twitter and explains very well how he uses it (video), Cory passed 100,000 followers yesterday. Cory Booker also has a Facebook Fans page and a vanity url http://www.facebook.com/corybooker with about 5,500 supporters on it. Cory blogs but we did not talk much about blogging.
Why did all the Social Networking execs show up? I hear Cory Booker is not only one of the leading voices in American politics today, he is seen as having the potential to become the next President in a few years. Former TechCrunch VP of communication Sarah Ross of Katalyst Films organized the meeting and everybody likes Sarah, even more since she is behind the impressive social software presence of Ashton Kutcher who became the most followed Twitter user of all times ahead of CNN with about 2 million followers in just a few months… The meeting was hosted by Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn, and Reid is the most connected entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, nobody refuses an invitation from Reid. That is a lot of reasons to help Cory.
Celebrities and politicians are very important for all social software tools, they are one of the best endorsement they can get and drove huge traffic to both Twitter and Facebook. Randi Zuckerberg is the personal contact of all the celebrities at Facebook and even created a dedicated page: Celebs on Facebook. Happy to hear that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has a very active page now with 113,000 supporters btw!
Mastering social software is now a necessity for any politician and it has become clear that it gave a clear advantage to Obama in the presidential campaign. Obama understands this so well that he just hired Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s Top Policy Executive to become the White House’s deputy CTO.
Here is the agenda we went through:
-opening remarks by Reid Hoffman and Cory Booker
-Reid Hoffman explains how LinkedIn can be useful and how to use his profile
-Gina Bianchini explained the power of communities with Ning and best use cases
-Randi Zuckerberg explained how Cory could use best his Facebook fans page twitt
-Biz Stone talked about the power of Twitter to Cory who is already completely addicted to it
-I gave a demo of Seesmic Desktop and how Cory could manage both Twitter and Facebook, later Cory asked me to set him up on his MacBook Air, we took a picture from his webcam
Cory Booker, me, Randi Zuckerberg
-John Ham gave an overview of ustream and how Cory could live broadcast in video with an iphone or a computer
-Sean Parker and Joe Green explained Causes and how Cory could use it
-Brittany Bohnet demoed how to best use iGoogle, Google maps, Latitude and other Google tools useful for politics
We then entered into an interesting brainstorming during which Gina Bianchini had a great point that the most important was to really engage in these tools and not use all of them in a mediocre way. Of course an empty blog, ning community or any other tool won’t help, all politicians should make sure they really listen and talk to their fans, not only broadcast stuff. That is clearly what Cory does already on Twitter: Cory answers personally all day long, way to go.
I was personally very impressed by Cory Booker (and I do not say this about all politicians I meet, some of my friends can confirm that :), his charisma and the way “he gets it”, I did not have much time to discuss with his team who also seemed to get and use social software very well. Cory asked me to set him up on Seesmic Desktop and started using it straight away which was an absolute pleasure for me to see. The “bloomberg of social software” all in one screen seems to work.
Cory, I was extremely happy to meet you and will be happy to help you anytime. Thank you Sarah and Reid for inviting me to this incredible meeting.