Yesterday undoubtedly marked a special day in history as President Obama hosted the first ever live presidential chat. In the form of an online town hall meeting, he addressed questions from citizens across the country. As the whitehouse.gov portal ‘Opened For Questions’, Americans didn’t hold back – a quick peek before showtime yesterday showed over 90,000 people submitted more than 100,000 questions, ranging from legalising marijuana to create jobs and stimulate the economy to the reasons behind spending billions bailing out Detroit rather than supporting small businesses or higher education.
Not only were Americans encouraged to submit questions but also to vote on those questions submitted by their fellow citizens. It’s no surprise that this was hugely popular with more than 3,500,000 votes tallied already.
It’s really a brilliant idea – an online portal that lets Americans voice their concerns directly to the President while sharing their fears, concerns and views with each other at the same time. And, with a platform to disseminate information and engage directly with the American people, Obama learns first-hand what is most important to the general public while giving the American people a way to feel more involved, motivated, and that they are directly capable of influencing public opinion and government decisions.
Take it one step further and surely there’s a lesson in here for the business world. In today’s economy where competition is stiff and budgets scarce, businesses should really look to follow in Obama’s footsteps, taking advantage of technology to get a better understanding of what matters most to customers and to get information out to those people – whether employees, customers, partners or the media – who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
He may be a hard act to follow but Obama’s latest social networking initiative certainly sets a great example for anyone ready and willing to ride the tech bandwagon.