WhiteHouse.gov Is Not Social! But It Could Be…


So many people are giving the Obama administration props for http://www.whitehouse.gov. To me it is a nice first step at making the Government more transparent. But it fails to be an “online community” like some in the Media, on Twitter and blogs have suggested. Here is a quick video I did proving it is purely a push website, and not an interactive community:


Here are 5 things the Obama Administration can do to engage and empower not only the American community-but he world community:

  1. Create an Ideas area  like Dell’s Ideastorm. This can be open to anyone who wants to share ideas that will help America get out of this financial mess. As I mentioned in the video, it could be sharing something another government has had success implementing. Or maybe there is a brilliant nugget in the mind of some 10 year old political whiz kid. Either way- the “we” has been proven to be smarter than the few. Might as well give the masses the vehicle to present the American Government with the nuggets that could really instill “change”.
  2. Events– Conduct live Chats with Senators and key members of the Government. The purpose of these chats is to give people a chance to ask tough questions. Obviously not all of the questions can be answered. But within those questions is valuable Intelligence. Intelligence the Government can use to understand what is really on their citizens minds. For the citizen, it is a way to be heard. For the very reason ESPN is successful using sports chats, so too will the Government. Use Recognition Rewards to drive participation.
  3. Instill empowerment through the use of Recognition Rewards– Great participation should be rewarded in the form of their very own blog post on the WhiteHouse.gov website. Also, Barack Obama is very popular right now. I am sure there are hoards of folks that would share their thoughts for a right to dine with the big guy!
  4. Live Chats During Speeches & Press Conferences – This gives folks a reason to come back to the community. But for the same reasons outlined above, it will give the Government an unfiltered look in the minds of the citizen. It is also would be great if 3 questions from the chat are asked after the speech or during the press conference. I never understood why the media was the only people allowed to ask questions. And I understand that many of the questions are seeded questions. Let’s put an end to that! Every day I get asked questions from customers off the cuff and I am no worse for wear. Government officials are paid a hell of a lot more money then I- they can handle it!
  5. Profiles – Each Citizen can create their own profile. This way they can favorite the topics that are important to them. They can track the progress of the agendas right from their profile. They will also be able be ranked as citizen, and will be able to set reminders to return for events that are important to them. Lastly, they can buddy up with other citizens to create and organize events to push the causes or candidates that they are passionate about.

In the end this takes money. Tax money! But  much of this can be outsourced away from the Government. Community management and moderation can be had! Just ask me and I will send Barach & Co. in the right direction. Come to think of it- wasn’t Macon Phillips hired to be the Director Of New Media for the Obama Administration?

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4 responses to “WhiteHouse.gov Is Not Social! But It Could Be…

  • Meredith Kench

    Such great ideas Derek!

    I was so happy and impressed to see that whitehouse.gov on Obama’s first day (the site was previously an embarrassment), but was saddened to see there was no commenting or other interactions I could take to communicate back to them.

    I really appreciate that Obama is trying to be more transparent and taking the government into the 21st century. I feel like he is the first president that truly “gets” who I am (or rather people like me – tech savvy folks). To me it would have been absurd to have a president that didn’t know how to use the internet, or have a mobile phone – after all it is 2009!

    But I want him to take it further and really open up the dialogue between both sides. There’s lots of smart people in this country that have something to say and don’t have a voice right now. I am sure there will be the trolls who will also participate. But I do believe the community will police itself to a degree – not to mention moderation keeps that all running smoothly.

    So yes – Great first step Obama… but don’t stop there.

  • Mike P

    Nice post and great ideas. I think that the concept here is crawl-before-you-walk, and walk-before-you-run.
    I would imagine everything being pre-moderated though, which would still hinder some aspects of the community.
    Eventually they will make additional strides, but it will take time, no doubt.
    Mike P / @nhscooch

  • Alex Showerman

    A politicians “brand,” is something that is extremely refined and guarded, more so than any corporation or product. Everything the President does is examined under a microscope. This is a world where even the questions at press conferences are pre-screened. Derek’s analysis is great and truly democratic, however the politicians response would be,”this makes me vulnerable to bad publicity and bad press coverage.” How would you reassure a politician a true social network is going to be a positive attribute to their “brand?”

  • Isaac Hazard

    Yes Yes Yes.

    Either do this on Whitehouse.gov or create a sister site for the same. I nominate http://www.MyAmerica.gov

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