Before the Internet, when business was literally done with a firm handshake, small business types relied solely on local customers. The Internet has changed that forever. It allows us to communicate in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. It also makes it possible to discover an endless supply of information with just a few clicks. And these clicks, performed by strangers half-way across the world, may lead to new customers. But there is no possibility of converting clicks into customers if they can’t find us, which is still a challenge frustrating the majority of small businesses.
Back in the day of the firm handshake, the principles espoused in Dale Carnegie’s landmark book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” were used by millions of business people with great amounts of success. Although the book was originally written in 1937, it’s as relevant today as it was back then. In fact technology amplifies Carnegie’s philosophies allowing them to impact more people than Carnegie himself could have ever imagined.
And quite possibly the best example of winning friends and influencing people in a Web 2.0 world is President-elect Barack Obama – who many feel has just completed the most successful Internet marketing campaign ever. Here are a few ways Obama’s campaign infused Carnegie’s original concepts with Web 2.0 tools and strategies in order to win and influence millions of people.
Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
The size of the grassroots coalition built by the Obama campaign was matched by the fervor generated by the people it attracted. A main reason for this passion has to do with the way the campaign used things like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to engage people. They also used services like Meetup.com to make easy for volunteers to organize in order to brainstorm and come up with their own ideas for spreading the word. The use of technology to empower people played a significant role in building enthusiasm for his message, while making each individual contributor feel important.
And though much has been made of Obama’s following on Twitter, Facebook and other “mainstream” social networking sites, there are other lesser known sites he participated in just as actively. MiGente.com, a social site dedicate to serving the Latino community, is a great example of a social site Obama is a member of that doesn’t have the hype of the larger social networking sites. But his participation on the site was viewed as a sign of respect to the community, which enabled him to attract more than 54,000 friends on the site.
Throw down a challenge
During the course of any political campaign a lot of statements are made that end up being contested. Obama’s campaign answered many of these contested statements with a site they put together – FightTheSmears.com. With this site they used audio, video, text and other kinds of content to address various statements they took exception to. They also invited site visitors to report “smears” in order to challenge them.
The Obama campaign also challenged those questioning his tax plan by putting up a page on their site that had a tax calculator people could use to see how his tax policy would impact their net income. It included a YouTube video that stated his policy on the subject. It also included a widget people could put on their websites and blogs, which helped spread his policies in a viral fashion.
And when the country was introduced to Joe the Plumber after his conversation with Obama on the subject of taxes, the Obama campaign used Google Adwords to buy an ad for the term “Joe the Plumber”. When you clicked on the ad you landed on the tax calculator page.
Dramatize your ideas
Through content created by his campaign, or through user generated content created on his behalf, Obama was able to express his ideas of hope and change in ways that captivated millions of people. His YouTube channel has over 1800 videos, accounting for over 20M views. His FlickR stream has thousands of photos. He posted his policies on document sharing sites like ScribD. The campaign also created an iPhone app that allowed people to organize their contacts by battleground states, provided campaign information, and helped find campaign events taking place in your area. The campaign even advertised on Xbox games like Burnout Paradise.
Dale Carnegie 2.0
President-elect Obama’s campaign is a living testament to the longevity of the teachings and concepts of Dale Carnegie. But they are also a testament to the power social media can have on building meaningful relationships with people we may have never met – and might not ever meet.
Now it’s not likely that we as small business people will ever reach the scale and scope the Obama campaign operated on. But we don’t need to reach millions of people and raise hundreds of millions of dollars to be successful.
We just need to figure out how we can use blogs, podcasts, social networks and other tools to make it easier for people to find us when they searching for help.
We can thank Dale Carnegie and Barack Obama for showing us how we can do it.
About the Author: Brent Leary is a Partner of CRM Essentials. Brent also hosts Technology For Business $ake, a radio show in the Altanta, Georgia, USA area about using technology in business.
Brent is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.