According to the White House,more than 90,000 people submitted more than 104,000 questions and cast 3.6 million votes on which to ask President Obama. The top-rated question under the category of "fiscal stability" is, you guessed it, about pot. "Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?" Top question in the budget category: "With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?" Read more from the Atlantic.This has been an ongoing theme, but Advertising Age online has an interesting take on "listening" to social media from a marketers' perspective.
The internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to get their opinions heard -- and for marketers to listen. But it also creates real challenges: Do marketers know who they're listening to? And at what point does the echo chamber of social media drown out the real opinions of the people who buy your brand?So, what does this mean for government? As we move into social media spaces, we will need to learn to calibrate and understand the information that we receive. We cannot dismiss the concerns of a "vocal minority"--after all they are citizens, too--but not everyone is participating in social media tools. The unplugged voices count, too.
"The data is a really compelling reminder that a lot of our target consumers are not the people who are sitting on Twitter freaking out over a packaging design that they don't like," said Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace. She added, "These are people online, having conversations, and yet they are totally out of the loop on stuff us marketing junkies love to obsess over."
For example, in the past month, the Twitter community has been titillated by South by Southwest, AT&T, "Lost" and the redesign of Skittles.com. Missing from the list are things the Communispace and Lightspeed surveys, both separately commissioned on Ad Age's behalf, found that the general population is fired up about, such as the AIG bonuses and the bank-bailout plans.
There's also the straight numbers game: While 64% of Communispace respondents had heard of Twitter, only 6% used it. The Lightspeed responses indicated even fewer users had heard of it (3%), and most of the 58% who had knew of it from someone they know or -- get this -- TV. Read more on Ad Age.
Taking the pulse of the American public will continue to be a combination of traditional tools like polling, focus groups and election results as well as "listening" to social media. As we transition and incorporate new forms of participation, we need to be very careful about our conclusions and remember that we are learning.