Posted by: Mark Nielsen | November 17, 2008

Obama On a Network, & Social Networks On Everything Else

I watched the Obamas on 60 Minutes last night, and what struck me most about the interview was how Steve Croft seemed surprised, several times, at how Barack was “keepin’ it real”.

Though I know enough to realize he’ll still be playing politics and trying to spin things in the future now and then, at least it won’t be a predictable spin. Obama’s a born improviser, but with a plan –and with the smarts to deeply understand the situation and what’s at stake, whether he’s on-camera (calming us by saying this is not the next Great Depression statistically, though it is the worst scenario since  then), or sitting across from the Afghani president.

He’s still disciplined in his communication, too. For instance, he didn’t throw Treasury Secretary Paulson under the bus, when some of Croft’s questions gave him an opening to do so. He may need to “keep his enemies closer” in the transitional period, and in the long run sees there’s little to be gained by alienating Republicans.

So to use a sports analogy, he’s good in the clutch. Obama’s like the Michael Jordan of politics: fake left, drive down the middle, then pull up and score a three-pointer (an understandable, three-point healthcare plan, that is).

Changing the subject completely (unless you consider the below items as related to healthcare or the economy), I’ve also been doing a bit of homework on various marketing methods, web promotion, and at-home-business models lately. I’m not in a position to start anything myself, but I have grown more curious about how it all works, and may make an effort if some glorious vision of my lucrative future suddenly emerges. (Yeah, right…)

For example, I may have mentioned that I got on Facebook a few months back. While I worry I will sound terribly amateurish and square, with what little I actually  know (technically) about social networking sites or computer programming in general, the reality is probably a bit more generous. What I mean is this: the number of hobbyists and young’uns who only use these sites for personal contact is probably vastly higher than the small number of people and companies who are buying ads, generating actual cash, and writing new programs to go along with the sites offering all those potential customers or clients.

Another example: an acquaintance recently started up an at-home business called Complete Natural Skin Care, and launched a multi-page website to go along with it. And she’s got plenty of the new technical bells and whistles that I’ve seen elsewhere, too: easy linkage to my Myspace and Facebook profiles, to Technorati and other collection/recommendation entities, easy RSS feed set-up, and so on. It remains to be seen whether she will make any money, but at least she’s pushing all the right buttons. I’ll be watching to see how she does.

I have not talked with her about how many hours went into this launch, but it’s got to be a lot, based on the health and consumer education content that she’s put up alongside the items she’s selling. We’ve all seen sites that are a mere shell, a sales pitch, without much content of value in the rooms themselves. In many cases it’s just the old Amway model, on steroids. So educating one’s potential customers (in this case, about the marketplace, and the environment, and their bodies) is a good way to go. It doesn’t cost much, other than time, to share your knowledge with others.

So I know the basic principle: offer value at the site itself, to not only draw people in but hold them and keep them coming back. In practice, though, we still have to be selling something that folks actually want to buy. (I’m not saying my friend isn’t doing that, … I’m just aware of how hard it is to be a small entrepreneur.)

The Complete Natural Skin Care website was created with Site Build It! , a product that I don’t know much about, but it looks promising. I don’t know what it costs, either. But it strikes me as trying to be as idiot-proof as possible, knowing that moms at their computers are not likely to be big-time computer nerds. (Nor are odd poets and entrepreneurial wanna-be’s like me, but selling books and ideas is yet another topic, for another day.)


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