Battered by messages and mantras from the other side that aren’t always true and often wildly exaggerated, the incumbent candidate for the US Presidency responded this week by sharing his own message in his own way in a format that is entertaining, informative and, above all, sharable.

While the opposing Republicans would likely accuse the President of the same, his response to them is truly unique and, I’m sure we will learn over the next few weeks from polls, effective.

What’s also noteworthy is that he shared it first through an online news source that is extremely popular amoung his target demographic of supporters – the Huffington Post. By doing this, the people who are most likely to support him will be first to see it, share it, and distribute it, increasing the likelihood of a rapid organic spread of the video amoung an obvious, visible, massive group of supporters.

5 Lessons For Politicians and Businesses

The result is momentum and a direct feed into millions of personal networks in a way that a traditional campaign could never hope to reach. And through this one piece of political storytelling are a few lessons to apply to growing any community; political, business, or otherwise:

  1. Be entertaining. More than any other nation, Americans vote for leaders who, above all,  make them feel proud to be an American and hopeful for their future as a nation. Content that feeds this need is captivating and entertaining to the President’s target audience and compels many to consume it. What motivates your community to take actions that support the growth of your company? Be entertaining by speaking to your audience in the language they know and respond to.
  2. Be factual. My wife often jokes to “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”. But when millions have readily available tools to research the facts and the means to distribute them, you’ve got to make sure your claims stand up to this scrutiny. Was Obama advised to let the auto industry fail by his opponents? Yes he was. Did he ignore that advice and bail them out anyway, leading to their return to profits? Yes he did.
  3. Be sharable. It seems so obvious but is so often missed. If you have valuable content you want shared with your supporters it needs to find its way to one-click consumption. Radio interviews that never get posted online or news stories locked behind paywalls are useless to a candidate (and a business) who wants the message spread widely online. Find a way around it or reconsider how much time you are willing to invest in that kind of exposure if you agree with the research that the most influential audience is online.
  4. Be personal. In his recent video, some of the most poignant moments hit home when the President shared what is important to him about the events and decisions he’s made, on a personal, emotional level that people can connect with. He brings us in to what motivates him, what he cares about, and what human qualities a voter can identify with and want to see in a person who represents them. Machines follow orders, people make decisions, and it’s important to know the human qualities that make those decisions.
  5. Be consumable. Be honest, how many lengthy articles do you read in the run of a week? If you hope to convert voters into supporters, don’t count on many of them to read through your lengthy campaign platform. By all means, write that lengthy manifesto for those who do, but make sure that every part can be broken down into a bite-sized, sharable nugget to pass around and discuss throughout the timeline of the campaign. Not everyone will care about everything you do. Make sure they can rally around and amplify the parts they care about most.

What These Lessons Mean For Business

Read through the bolded lines of the 5 points above and consider which ones do not apply to your business and the community you hope to build around it. In my opinion, they all apply. And if you add the social lessons we have shared since this blog was born, the content you create will feed a wonderful community that brings a lot of value to the people who like you.

Political campaigns are big business and there are many pundits around the world who have dissected the process of winning in great detail. There’s a lot to read and a lot to learn. But the basics of building great content that draws people to you and turns them into supporters are simple and straightforward and, surprisingly, still lost on many businesses.

As you watch the political campaigns unfold in your part of the world, consider what resonates with you. What draws you in, what content compels you to share, and what is so meaningful that you’re willing to speak out?

Learn from it, copy it, and use it for your business. And please share your observations in the comments below.