Political Power for Real People
September 17, 2008
Below is a white paper analysis of You2Gov done by Robby Berthume, the CEO of Epsilon Concepts which is a company that is independent of You2Gov. Thanks Robby.
The original link is:
There’s a Shift in the Political Landscape and You’re Invited
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Alan Silberberg, CEO of You2Gov.com, a former White House staffer for former President Bill Clinton, to discuss his exciting new political social networking website. In addition to discussing You2Gov’s current and soon-to-be released features for users, we also discussed the evolution of politics in the new digital era and how social media is changing the landscape – fascinating to observe a whole new era of political action develop right before our eyes!?
Silberberg explained that he built You2Gov for one reason: to empower real people by providing them with extensive political communications tools and resources on a social network platform. Silberberg’s goal is provide the tools and information that will allow regular Americans to learn more about the issues they care about; form online communities with like-minded citizens; and to take action by using the simple tools available on You2Gov’s social network platform.
Silberberg made the great point that lobbyists often represent billion dollar corporations that are able to influence politicians in a variety of ways and that You2Gov.com provides a platform that shows average citizens that they too can be influential, just like the lobbyists – and that exercising their democracy is not as difficult as one might think.
On the information side, You2Gov.com aims to provide customized, relevant and current information about what’s going in the user’s political world, whether local or national. The web site is populated with valuable timely and relevant content that is provided both by You2Gov and its users, including current news, videos, useful links, a national calendar of events, a burgeoning forum community, and a government database that allows users to connect with the appropriate elected officials. All of this information is aggregated in one place – it is very simple, giving You2Gov.com users no reason to leave the web site to accomplish the task at hand: ACTION!
You2Gov.com not only connects normal citizens like you and I, but it also connects citizens (sometimes individually and sometimes coalesced as a group) with key decision makers. In the words of Silberberg, “Collectively, every American citizen owns the government, so why not leverage our collective voice?”
With the growth of You2Gov, politicians may be wary: this website presents a platform that not only aggregates all of the important information and tools, but it allows literally millions of like-minded Americans to organize themselves and take action. You2Gov gives every citizen a direct line of communication with their Government officials, allowing Americans to hold their representatives accountable. It will be interesting to see how politicians react – will they embrace the open communications or ignore it? And if it is the latter, will they really be able to get away with it given that everything will be public?
Silberberg’s site is rolling out new features periodically and users can expect a steady stream of improvements and new functionalities. According to Silberberg, “…web applications and social networking sites are like ‘legos’ nowadays. It’s not a matter of reinventing the wheel, it’s about how good of a ‘lego’ builder you are.” Silberberg’s website represents this vision.
Though recently launched, his site is solid, comprehensive, and garnering attention in the media.
My main criticism/suggestion would be some key usability and design improvements, improving the registration process and making things even more intuitive and easy-to-use. The features themselves are great and Silberberg’s vision includes even better tools that are being phased in (like allowing users to fax petitions from the site and a mobile version). With just a few tweaks, there is tremendous potential for You2Gov to grow very, very quickly.
During our talk, we discussed how many social networking websites are struggling because they don’t provide enough value or utility to enough people. Many larger social networks are gaining new users, yet retention, frequency, and ad rates are all on a downward slope. It’s obvious that Silberberg has done his homework and has big plans for You2Gov. His core principles are:
- Content is king
- Content creates conversations
- Conversations create community
- Communities take action
Where many social networking websites miss the boat is by focusing on number 3 alone. Or, they don’t give users the motivation or ability to actually take action or take advantage of the content and community for change. Social media, in the belief of Silberberg, represents a fundamental change in power.
He said, “Fortune 1000s and politicians alike are and will continue to be grappling with how to deal with the switch in leverage from companies, PR, and “big money” to individuals and constituents united for a cause and using social media as their megaphone.”
If you’re looking to amp up your involvement in issues you care about, I recommend logging on to You2Gov.com. They are well on their way to growing the site into a powerful force in the political spectrum.
Sign up (free) here
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