Everyone wants to be liked and followed on social media. In effect, we want to create communities of interest around our corporate or personal brand, magnetizing followers into adoration and money, or at least, fame.
According to master political strategist, Joe Trippi, these efforts to build community typically fail because the agenda is one-sided and limited in scope.
Trippi was the mastermind behind Howard Dean’s grassroots campaign that mobilized $50 million in donations, most of which were less than $50 each. He even wrote a book about that experience. During a conversation on CXOTalk, Trippi attributed success to telling the story based on data:
We went from 481 to 1000 people within a week. We went from 1000 people to 10,000 people in about a month.Then we went about 159,000, and then we grew to 600,000 people, and it was all through the telling of the story.
We started to realize that we could quantify things. You didn’t have to ask why do people use the red button to donate more. It didn’t matter why. What matters is when we were testing things, green, blue, or red more people chose red and did it.
You’re able to use data to move things in the right direction and also to carry on – but not just that, but to carry on a narrative.
You can watch the entire conversation here:
Trippi believes that successful communities touch a nerve or theme that is already present in the participants. Rather than connect with concerns already present in the minds of potential members, many brands try to mobilize followers with a self-interested message.
Empowerment, rather than selling, is the foundation of successful community. Brands sometimes use communication and public relations as a substitute for delivering what consumers actually want. In the end, this strategy does not work because public relations cannot hide a brand’s true motivation. Building a community demands action that members believe is their own best interest.
On the topic of social media followers and likes, Trippi prioritizes “connection” as they key metric:
That should not be the endgame: how many Twitter followers can I get or how many likes can I get on Facebook. There has to be a meaningful connection, something of benefit to the consumer, voter, or citizen.
Bottom line: Community means making a genuine commitment to the interests of members. Be aware that public relations can never replace giving your constituency what they want. When it comes to community, don’t try to “fake it until you make it.”
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Here’s an unedited transcript of the entire conversation, which I’ve included as an experiment. Please let me know whether it is useful.
Transcript: Build Community with Data-Driven Narratives
Michael: (00:07) The role of communities and grassroots and movements, we tend to think as a spontaneous arising. You press a button you have a movement or actually a movement just happens, but in fact maybe it’s something in between. And today on episode number 107 CXO-Talk, I’m talking with Joe Trippi who for a living, a living actually creates movements.
(00:44) My glorious co-host, Vala Afshar is I don’t know where he is. Vala’s out there in the ether somewhere and Vala if you can hear this send us a sign, send us a sign. But in the meantime, Joe Trippi how are you?
Joe: (01:00) Good good to be with you Michael, how are you doing?
Michael: (01:02) I am great and I am thrilled and honored that you’re here for episode number 107 of CXO-Talk.
Joe: (01:09)107 that’s cool
Michael: (01:11) That’s a lot of episodes
Joe: (01:12) Yeah. I didn’t realize there’s been that many. I just started picking up on this a while ago. It’s great I really enjoy it.
Michael: (01:20) Well you know we’ve had people like David Bray who I know that actually introduced me to you and Craig Numark who I know you know. But Joe, tell us about your professional background just to give us some context.
Joe: (01:37) Well I started out – I’ve always been one of these people who I was torn between what would change people’s lives more, politics or technology and so I didn’t know which field to get into and I kept going back and forth between the two.
(01:51) I was an aerospace engineering major in college but somehow got involved in politics, and then would leave politics for a few years and go work in Silicon Valley with mostly e-commerce companies and cyber security and things like that. And then would go back to do politics for four or five years. So I did presidential campaigns and other things.
(02:22) Anyway by 2004 I had been dangerous enough in both worlds I mean. I knew enough about politics and knew enough about the technology and where things were going to think and see that maybe you could do politics in a different way, merge the two and actually change the way we do campaigns. That turned out to be the Dean campaign. And if I think I had just been in technology all that time it wouldn’t have worked.
(02:53) There are a lot of people in technology don’t understand politics, a bunch of people in politics who don’t understand technology. And somehow, like I said I just sort of waited around in both of those two worlds long enough to see that there was a way to do something different.
Michael: (03:08) So you say do politics in a different way and obviously this as you’re saying was formed by the technology and kind of the marrying the two together. So tell us what you saw and what you did.
Joe: (03:24) Well is horrible in a lot of corporate America’s very top down – most of our institutions are top down. Orders come from the top and people at the bottom are supposed to follow them, and I always had thought that politics should be the people told the top what to do.
(03:51) And so what I realized in the late 90’s was that the internet network technology, the devices that were on people’s desks, and now increasingly in their hands were actually ways that people could join together and create the politics that they wanted instead of getting served up the politics that the party or someone else was dictating. And so that kind of got me thinking about how to do it differently. And then Howard Dean came along and asked me to run his campaign and I finally had the opportunity to try it out.
(04:38) I think probably a few years ahead, when the network was big enough but not enough people on it. You know four years later, the Obama campaign – we were the Wright Brothers compared to the Obama campaign. This was the Apollo project they actually got a guy, launched him and landed him safely in the Whitehouse. But it’s been clear to me for quite some time the party structures and I think this is happening in all kinds of corporate world to. The way things work are going to change and be very disruptive, and it’s going to be a lot more decentralized and a lot more people coming together and creating the narrative.
Michael: (05:30) So you talk about creating an narrative, why don’t you tell us the story of the Dean campaign for those of us who don’t know, because it’s a pretty fascinating story. And maybe we can talk about narratives and talk about story telling.
Joe: (05:48) Sure well look, the Dean Campaign like a lot of campaigns all these parties start off with the candidates that the establishments and the party perceives the right guy to nominate, the right person to nominate, and they don’t like getting insurgency or someone who comes out of left field that they don’t heard of or might disrupt their place in the hierarchy of the party.
(06:25) Howard Dean was an insurgent that no one at the top, no one in the party establishment wanted anywhere near being their nominee. And there were three or four candidates, John Carey, Dick (Gethart?) , John Edwards, who all of the big money and the movers and shakers were behind one of the three of them. And all of them, thought the Dean Campaign or Howard Dean himself was you know, somebody who didn’t have a chance. They weren’t going to waste any money on him and they certainly weren’t going to help him, and they weren’t going to risk the future of the party on someone like him who wouldn’t listen to them and had his own thought.
(07:09) So anyway essentially when he hired me we had $92,000 in the bank and exactly 481 people who supported him across the country or even knew he was running. Know know, doing a presidential campaign you have to be able to raise – you know, $92,000 won’t even get you a couple of flights out to Iowa you know on a campaign trail.
(07:37) So we had to by necessity find a new way to do it and that was to take that 481 people and use them and run a decentralized campaign, not top down but be decentralized around the country and use those 481 people and ask them to build it from the bottom up, to talk to their friends, to tell them why they were supporting Howard Dean and why it was important to get their friends, or co-worker, or someone else out there.
(08:19) And of course we had to join us and within a week or two, again because of the network and peer-to-peer, because of the ability for each of those people to tell their own story about why they were working for Howard Dean, and why it was important for them that their friends join. We went from 481 to 1000 people within a week. We went from 1000 people to 10,000 people in about a month. (08:50) Then we went about 159,000 and then we grew to 600,000 people, and it was all through the telling of the story. And the story was that it was a classic story of the little guy against all the odds stacked against him, who wanted to stop the war in Iraq and needed the people who felt that same way to join all this together and form a movement to make him our voice and nominee.
(09:30) And what happened was, very simply one of the things that happens when you’re telling a story, I had read a book by James McGregor-Burns on leadership just before the campaign, where he talked about and I think this is really important, particularly in the corporate world today, there is something in co-aid and every human being and it’s sitting in there.
(09:56) They kind of know it’s there and they know it’s true but they haven’t heard anybody else say it. And when they hear someone else say it, and using the word as an example. People knew they were against the war, but the country was 80% for the war and the people that were against it at the time thought that they were the only person and they were all keeping their mouths shut because in public company, if they went into a room at a dinner party or something and said they were against the war, the 20% that were with them stayed silent, and the 80% that were for the war looked at them like they were crazy.
(10:36) So they really literally thought they were the only one. And by giving voice to that narrative to that story and saying, look, there’s 481 of us, let’s go find, there are a whole lot more out there, let’s find them. Here’s a safe place for you to come if you care about this issue as much as we do, join the Dean Campaign. It was this very simple narrative that woke everybody up.
(11:06) The movement that was out there it existed already, but that had no idea where to go, that there was other members or anything that was articulating. What they all knew was true but they didn’t know it was true. It’s a very hard thing to get around sometime, that things that we know but are unaware that we know them can really trigger in people a sense of coming together and moving together, and that’s what happened in the Dean Campaign.
(11:45) Within six short months this campaign had no big donors or anything, and had raised more money than Bill Clinton had raised. When he ran – not the first time for president, but when he ran as the sitting president for re-election in 1996, the Dean Campaign surpassed that volume of people and money coming to us.
(12:12) It was a pretty remarkable campaign, again and also by the way at a completely different time. We didn’t have, you know the iPhone wouldn’t be released until 2007. YouTube didn’t exist until after the campaign. We had created something called Dean TV which was infact YouTube. You could upload video, you could rate it. You could tell your friends and we had about 250,000 people because there wasn’t a whole lot of broadband even yet.
Michael: (12:45) So what everybody wants today on social media is to have shares and likes and all of that. and it sounds that what you were doing with the Dean Campaign was essentially the kind of essence of today what people wanted to do with their social media – sharing information through social media. But how can you identify those aspects of shared consciousness or shared awareness or shared concern so that you can tap or touch the nerve that you obviously did with the Dean Campaign.
Joe: (13:32) Well like I said it’s out there. People who (? 13:41) for example, hybrids. There’s a commonality to why did they do that. you know, it’s really interesting. Old advertising always wanted to know why people do things. They’d do focus groups to see why they did what they did.
(14:03) What data does is you know, we’re not so much interested why people do things that they’re doing. Those people bought a (previous? 14:13) they bought a hybrid. Now the question is that’s a community and suddenly Toyota did start to build I think a community around that brand, around that vehicle, around the people who own it.
(14:37) It doesn’t have to be the war or global warming or an issue can be, and obviously politics. But I think what’s really important for brands to understand is their brand already has a lot of people committed in one way or another to the brand.
(14:59) Now it’s a question of how do you form a community around a brand in a different way. We didn’t have a lot of data in the Dean Campaign. We were doing it literally flying blind. But during the Dean Campaign we started to realize that you know we could quantify things. Again you didn’t have to ask why do people use the red button to donate more. It didn’t matter why. What matters is when we were testing things, green, blue, or red more people chose red and did it.
(15:50) You’re able to use data to move things in the right direction and also to carry on – but not just that, but to carry on a narrative.
(15:58) one of the most important things about a narrative story is that it lets you – and again, if you know something but aren’t quite aware of it, data help us to get people to visualize and realized that they are aware of it. I mean make them get it.
(16:24) My best example of that right now is you know, the book, The Second Machine Age that came out last year or the year before that, they do an incredible job in like a few pages of getting you to understand, it’s an old story of the inventor of chess being killed by the emperor who wanted to reward him for inventing chess. The inventor puts a grain of rice on the first square on the board and tells the emperor, you can reward me by just doubling that to two grains of rice on the next square, four grains of rice, eight grains of rice, 16 grains of rice.
(17:16) And at the end of the 64 squares on my chess board, I will walk away with food to feed myself and my family and many more people and that’s all I want. The emperor said yes. But see 64 doublings is 15 quintillion grains of rice. It’s a pile of rice higher that Mount Everest. And that 15 quintillion grains of rice is more rice that was produced worldwide in the year 2010.
(17:49) So the emperor realizes that if he give the guy his reward, he’s going to be ruined. he’ll give him his entire empire. So he does back then in the year 600AD, what every good emperor would do, he kills the inventor of chess.
(18:11) I just use a whole bunch of data and facts to tell a story, and here’s the a-ha moment. Computing Moore’s Law, the capacity of computing, doubling it in capacity but reducing half the size and half the cost every two years, here’s what’s going on. And here’s why that narrative I just told you is important because computing power has just reached the second half of the chessboard.
(18:58) Know you get a-ha and if I don’t tell you the first part of the story you don’t get what I’m about to tell you. I’m about to tell you that the reason we’re seeing such rapid change, and the reason we’re seeing such disruption is because it didn’t matter when we went from a 256 machine to a 512 machine.
(19:25) It doubled but what did that do? You had a little bit more room on a floppy or something. In the next two years, the computing capacity and your lifetime is going to double – everything that you’ve seen it’s going to double. It’s going to get cut half in price and it’s going to get to a smaller form factory, that’s why all this massive change is going on.
(19:51) And we’re going to get to 15 quintillion and in other words, I’m using the data driven narrative, they did it incredibly well in The Second Machine Age, that all of this is how you can get people to grasp things.
(20:14) There are a lot of people today who are aware of what I’m saying. They know it but they’re not aware of it, and the more that become aware of it, then the more are actually able to join a community that get what we have to do, meet challenges etc. that’s the same within your company r in politics.
Michael: (20:38) Okay, the importance of using data to help people understand what? the point of the story
Joe: (20:52) Yeah, well my company’s got a message of the concept that I’m trying to get you to get. It’s using the data, one to identify people who are likely to get it, but secondly to get them to understand – like I just used in that story, the concept that I’m trying to drive you to or that I would like you to at least share with me I’m trying to share with you this idea, how do I do that?
(21:29) As human beings we are driven by stories and better better much better, that’s how we’ve always passed on information to each other. So the problem was you know we check the box, male or female and we poll and we say, men think this, women think that.
(21:52) It’s not, data is part of our real world now, and it’s like I said I think we are going to find out is more variations for male and female and I don’t mean sexual orientation or anything like that, but I just mean like you know once you have 300 million cases a day on something, gender may not have anything to do with the differences of why people are thinking something different. Then how do you tackle that within your company or within the country right now. I do not have fun making sense.
Michael: (22:39) No it does make sense and it’s really interesting. We have a question from Twitter from Frank Scavo, who is one of the top enterprise software technology analysts in the world actually. And Frank asks, has the data driven campaign approach reached its peak or is there more ground to gain in the coming years?
Joe: (23:03) I don’t think at all its reached its peak. I personally think we’re in this infancy stages, we’re like two-year old toddlers walking around and there is just tremendous – I mean leaps and bounds are going to be made over the next two, three, four election cycles. The problem is trying to predict how or what it will be. It’s like at the end of the Dean campaign it predicted YouTube. I wouldn’t have, or that mobile would be and the iPhone launch would change.
(23:48) But I think data and what we’re going to do, and some of it is kind of you know can get scary. Not all utopias. I think there is a lot of predictive data analysis that is going on in politics that you know, it’s going to be interesting to see how we as a society deal with it and I think the companies will be doing it as well. But how do we deal with that, and I mean what happens when you can literally predict human behaviour and we’re getting close to that.
(24:28) I mean in the Obama campaign we were they were able and even in the Dean campaign, we knew to predict a certain targets received our best interests, and it cost us $2 to get the message there or to acquire their attention. You know, there was 87% chance that they would give us $57 and you know what, they did.
(24:57) The Obama campaign was able to take that much further and I still think we are just scratching the surface. The data is only going to get finer and there is going to be more data on each of us, and again that’s what I’m saying, the whole privacy and other things, it’s not going to be all upside but I think there is a lot of room to grow.
Michael: (25:22) Frank has a follow-up question, but give us a short answer to this one because there’s a lot more that we want to talk about regarding the storytelling. He says, we know that Republicans were beat hard with data driven campaign in 2012, but they’re catching up.
Joe: (25:44) Yes and no. They’re catching up but there still woefully behind, and it’s kind of like first mover in anything and the damage that the Democrats have that is just so big that I don’t see them catching up any time. Never say never, and certainly not catching up by 2016.
Michael: (26:09) Okay, so your firm which is called Trippi & associates you talk about building movements, creating movements and I think many of us who are watching movements of any type on television we see a spontaneous arising, but when you talk about building a movement, creating a grass roots movement that implies that it’s not just a spontaneous arising of a motion. That’s instantaneously happening in creating change, so how do you create a movement?
Joe: (26:51) Well the people are already there. Again, they may not be active, they don’t know that there are other people who think like them, feel like them and it’s the knowledge that other people feel like them and I’m not in this all alone. That I can join with other people and promote the issue that I care about, or the candidate that I cared about, or the brand that I care about. That’s what you’re creating.
(27:30) You’re creating the knowledge, you’re making them aware that they’re not alone. And by the way I think this is one of the big problems – getting to the other question a second ago about the Republicans.
(27:45) One of the (unclear 27:47) I’ve come to become convinced of is ideological a is they are opposed to that weight in all this together. One of the reasons Democrats or progressives are better at building brand movements or any other political movement in a campaign is because we believe we’re all in this together; they are rugged individualists. And so it’s harder for them to even write a narrative or the language of a narrative that says we’re all in this together.
(28:30) I don’t mean by the way some left ideas, I’m talking about that we are all in this brand together, they don’t think that way and so it makes it tougher for them to compete. But in the end what’s going on is and let’s take the country, there are over 300 million Americans, and if you said today, how many of you – I’m trying to think of something that’s not ideological. How many of you would want to go to a baseball game together tonight, how many Americans would raise their hand? Many. You can start to create something pretty amazing about everybody going to the game next Saturday. Once everybody realizes that there are people who are going to go, my friends are all going because now we are on social media I can see that you’re going. You’re going, Craig Newmark’s going and now that starts to broaden out.
(29:51) More people who know Craig decide that they are going to come and some people who know me. Less people who know me are going to do it because if I’m going, they’re not going. But my point is that you can start to see how it’s that information and the narrative. So we are telling a story that we are all going to go to this game, and then you are starting to get information laid on top of that about whose going. Some people are going because the person that they have been dying to ask out, they just found out is going to the game. I mean there’s different reasons we all have, but there is a way to create this around a brand or even an event, or a political campaign. But it all involves using the data and the story, and the ability to have data help you tell that story, to people who want to hear that particular story.
(30:52) Now, you’re starting to get more people at that event or more people joining the cause, or more people buying that brand than would have if you used traditional methods of just buying TV ads. Part of this is that everybody is so stuck on the old paradigms and I hate using that at word, but stuck on the old methods of how you advertise.
(31:26) The old advertising just wants to know why people do things and try to convince them to do more of it. Data actually makes it a much deeper connection.
Michael: (31:40) So for brands who want to engage with the community, it seems that there is two dimensions to this based on what you’re saying. Number one is, be aware of the data so that you understand their actions and their behaviors. But that’s a set of technical skills to a certain extent. But then don’t you have to in order to drive a community, don’t you have to do have some understanding or some sense of that communities shared goals and shared interests. And that seems to me the trickier part, so how do you do that.
Joe: (32:38) It’s two things and the most important thing right now is to be authentic. You have to be authentic in your communications, and you’ve got to be authentic in your storytelling. But the second most important thing is to realise that if you don’t empower people to make your brand better, or to make the event better or make your party better, or to use their ideas to listen, then it’s never going to happen.
(33:09) I mean, if you’re trying to move and build a community, so the two things are to stop doing the kind of like phony corporate ad speak, and be real. And the second thing is don’t assume that you’re the only one with power to communicate any more. The most powerful communicators for your brand are your consumers, are the people who use your brand for your product. They are much more powerful.
(33:49) Look, even in the Obama campaign, the Obama campaign is sending out an email saying, hey, watch Barak’s speech it’s amazing, is not as important is as you are receiving an email from a friend with a link saying man, I just saw this guy you’ve just got to watch his speech. He is amazing.
(34:12) That’s much more powerful. We don’t trust corporate leaders anymore, political leaders. How about journalists? We trust our friends, our co-workers and our families and people we know. So those people are much more powerful in telling your brands story than you are. They’re much more credible in telling your brand story than you are.
(34:40) So now the question is, why would Joe tell a story to his friends about your brand? I mean there’s all kinds of ways that you could encourage that and a lot of it is empowering them to do it, and trusting them. Trusting your users and consumers. It’s the same thing that happened in the Dean campaign. The establishment and the Democratic party doesn’t trust average people out there to carry a message. And you know, Obama did, the Clinton campaign didn’t. But in the end that’s why the big difference between those two campaigns. They empower people and you know we’ll see who learns that lesson this time around. But companies I think would benefit from learning some of these lessons as well.
Michael: (35:43) So then what you’re saying is the foundation of community aside from being authentic is to genuinely seek to empower the members of those communities, into some shared experience and valuable to them.
Joe: (36:03) Right exactly, and if you’re not offering that – I mean it doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your brand or something, but you’re not going to get them to help you do it. You know, there’s no reason for them to.
(36:21) So, it’s being creative thinking that way I think that matters. You know, we see it all the time and you’ll see some companies that are really really good at it, and it sort of empowering their consumers and others who are still light years away. By the way, it’s in politics too. You know we can slip back over before we find the next leap in how data will be used in politics.
Michael: (37:03) Do you advice on how to empower people, and then I halted because I thought well isn’t that kind of obvious, but actually it’s not obvious at all because if you think about brands or you think about politicians and people who want to motivate and encourage others to create a community to come together. Most of the time is there not thinking about the members of that community, they’re thinking about themselves; how can I benefit.
Joe: (37:38) Right, that is exactly right. I mean in that thinking about how do I benefit from this then you’re not consumer focused right. It should be how can my consumers benefit from this for my product, and obviously companies think that way. But I am just saying that if the way you communicate is how I going to benefit from it, and if that’s just the way you are thinking, which was really the one-way broadcast TV way of thinking.
(38:17) You know, there was no way for anybody to communicate back to you, so it was all this one-way command and control. And I think breaking out of that – I technology, social media all of that is empowering people to tell your story. It’s not how am I going to benefit from this, it’s how do I get others to tell my story and the concept that I talk to you about the second machine. So how do I use the data and the tools out there to get others to tell that story for me? Because I can only reach so many people, and if I go on TV to tell it, all of a sudden it’s the top telling people which should I believe again, and they are not coming to it on their own.
(39:08) I think that’s a very powerful concept for corporate communication teams and corporate C-level people to start to get a better idea.
Michael: (39:23) But how does somebody who is fully steeped in command and control culture, which frankly most people in business that I talked to at a senior level, how can those people how can they learn, or how can they communicate or present, he has held you’re going to benefit when that’s not really in their consciousness.
Joe: (39:56) Well, the first answer to that is, when I was growing up it used to be go out and find yourself a 50-year-old mentor who knows everything about the business that you want to get into and hope he’ll coach and help you develop a career.
(40:13) You know now, it’s slipped. A lot of these companies should go out and find a bunch of 22 and 23-year-old mentors to help explain to the company and understand better how to communicate in the world that exists today because they are all steeped in the old thinking. That’s one.
(40:35) The second thing I’ll give you an example, every newspaper in this country – explain to me why the Craig Newmark started craigslist, it had the LA Times or the New York Times or the Washington Times or any of the old thinkers that what a newspaper was had thought, hey we should launch craigslist at the LA Times. They would only classified advertising today as it exists. They didn’t do that. Why? Because they don’t think that way.
(41:28) Is not just the story of how to build your brand, but if you’re blind to everything that we are talking about and there are a lot of companies that are going out of business right now or will be very shortly because they do not see this disruptive change that’s coming, and it’s not just in how you communicate – Kodak, 187,000 employees they went bankrupt. Instagram they sold themselves to Facebook and has 13 employees I think it was.
(42:04) So, did Kodak not see that coming, and how many other companies right now are not just not understanding why they need to rethink the way that they communicate, but even take a real look at their business models and where they’re going.
(42:26) TV networks that they are sitting on a cable box, it’s really going to be fascinating, do they just sit there while Netflix and everything else this disruption continue to change in the way that we communicate, and the way we consume media. We already have an entire group of people – young people who don’t get their information by reading newspapers or by watching the evening news.
(42:58) This is what I’m saying, it’s about really using the data to understand, not just the narrative in terms of what’s happening in communication in what your business does, but using the data right now and really looking at the data to seek where people are moving to. And if they’re moving off of cable to other à la carte services and you decide I’m going to stay on cable without using that data to give yourself a shot of where things are moving and how can I move my brand there. You’re going to be a dinosaur. You’re going to be Kodak.
(43:45) And so I think this has much broader implications, and I I think this is a really important talk about the communication and how we create a movement with the narrative, but I think those ramifications – there’s a movement going on right now. People are moving away from broadcast and cable and that movement is happening, and where are you in that movement. I’m using just that one industry as an example, otherwise there’s going to be more Kodak in that industry and we at literally watching it.
Michael: (44:18) So I think with many corporations they tend to focus on the activity of communication as a substitute for the activity of rethinking what they’re doing from the perspective of what does the constituency actually want and what is best for the consumers, as opposed to using communication in order to create a larger pot of gold strictly for ourselves.
Joe: (44:53) Right exactly and that’s part of the problem and once you’ve walked into that sort of way of thinking it’s very very hard to get out of it. And also when you wake up one day and realise you know we’re in deep trouble and we totally misread the situation. And we are seeing that not just in communication, but it’s all tied together now.
(45:22) If you aren’t rethinking the way you are communicating then you are not rethinking on what you’re doing. Consumers are becoming much more empowered, voters are much more empowered. The average person has so much more power and information at their disposal right now than they did 10 years ago or 20, depending on your C-level in a major corporation and you are sort of still in the top down command and control mode. That will work for a while.
(45:59) By the way the other thing is that they are all trapped in their success. If your company is making billions of dollars right now doing it the old way, you know if you are a cable company that’s making a ton of money that may be fine and it may work for a while. But you are still making a total of money but you don’t rethink anything, and yeah, the world is changing and I just got to communicate differently. But then that’s how you’re asleep at the switch, and the next thing you know Netflix or somebody – you know that’s what I’m saying.
(46:41) The hardest part is predicting, which is why you have got to be data driven and really listening to that narrative. There is an narrative out there that people are trying to tell you something, and if you are not building and listening to that narrative, and building on your own I think you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble.
(47:07) I once right after the Dean campaign I went to the Mexican newspaper publishers Association and the asked me to come down and give them a talk about how this Internet was changing things and what they should know. And at the end of my whole talk about how disruptive this was going to be and how people have more power they literally said I was like crazy. Like at the time there was only 11% Internet penetration in Mexico, that I didn’t know what I was talking about and there was no way in what I was saying was going to happen.
(47:49) And I just said, do you have any idea what the LA Times, the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post and every newspaper in America would do if they could go back to the days when there was 11% Internet penetration in the United States, knowing what they know now. They would have seen this world that we were in, and there would be a craigslist but it would be probably owned by the newspaper association or started by them.
(48:19) But that’s the whole thing, we’re in a very disruptive – and it gets back to my original story about the second machine age. Is computing capacity is going to double in the next two years and cut in half in price and factors are going to be smaller.
(40:38) You know, if you were in an accounting firm right now, these devices are going to be able to sell them the story of the second you made an expenditure and the Vice is going to know that that was a write-off or not, and who it was, and where it goes into the accounting software. And a lot of accountants are going to be and firms are going to be in deep trouble not because of another company but because of technology.
(49:09) And if you’re not listening to this or building your own brand identity with people, you are just going to get side swiped by it I think. It’s going to happen very quickly.
Michael: (49:22) Okay Joe unfortunately we’re just about out of time. Why don’t we finish out by if you don’t mind, share your advice to corporate executives, communicators, exec’s of all types who are so interested in engaging with their communities and creating communities of interest around their companies. And they’re having trouble getting people to like them on Twitter, let alone actually create meaningful engagement. What’s your advice to these people, what should they do?
Joe: (49:59) Well I mean the first thing is to be liked and they are followed on Twitter it’s nice, but
(50:30) And, the key is and again I go back to being authentic in your communication, and to have some connection and empowerment to your consumer to help you carry the messaging. That the old company being able to say, put out a press release and get people to buy in what you are saying is gone. It’s to recognise that the real power and communicating about your company comes from the people who use your company products or services. And you have to do empower those people to tell your story.
(51:09) Now, I really think this isn’t that hard, but it does take a change in mindset and probably in some people who aren’t grounded in the old and just the same old way of communicating. You know, whether they be data scientists – I call them data poets. It’s not just looking at data and numbers, but even being able to look at the data and give voice to it and use it to create a narrative about who you are and want people to get, and I think that’s really important.
Michael: (51:56) So this is really the key thing is adopting the mindset of what matters and how do you empower your consistency. That’s the bottom line.
Joe: (52:10) Yeah, that’s the whole thing. If you can do that the rest will follow.
Michael: (52:15) Okay, well we have been talking with Joe Trippi, who really pioneered the use of data in political campaigns, and Joe has been sharing his lessons both for politics, and very importantly for corporate engagement on episode number 107 of CXO-Talk. Joe, thank you so much for taking the time in joining us today.
Joe: (32:40) Thanks for having me, really enjoyed it Mike.
Michael: (52:43) And I hope you’ll come back another time.
Joe: (52:45) I sure will.
Michael: (52:47) And to my friendly and glorious co-host, Vala Afshar wherever you are I hope you come back next week. And I hope all of you, you the audience especially come back next week. Have a good week everybody, bye bye.
(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)