Of course, it makes sense. After all, I'm following him (along with 43,485 people at this writing). But it still gave me a little thrill, a few minutes later, to get the message that he was now following me (along with the 42,084 other people he follows). Is it automatic somehow? Or does a campaign staffer have it in their job description to follow all the people who follow him? (And what about the 1,399 people who follow him whom he doesn't follow?)
It's not that his Twitter feed is all that amazing; he updates about every day and a half, on average; has submitted 139 updates; and typically sends people to his website to get the details. The amazing thing is that he's doing it at all. John McCain, for example, isn't, though there are a number of real and fake McCain feeds on Twitter.
Similarly, Obama is using Facebook -- where a week ago he crossed over the 1 million mark and now has 1,047,107 supporters as of this writing -- and LinkedIn -- where he has more than 500 connections but, though I'm a second-degree connection of his, it seems that he's not accepting new requests for introductions unless you know his email address. Awww.
Again, McCain doesn't seem to be using Facebook, though there's a number of spoof McCain entries, though he does have a LinkedIn profile.
What's different is how Obama is using these sites. The Facebook site, for example, features links to speeches and videos, while the LinkedIn site takes advantage of the LinkedIn "question" feature that enables a user to ask advice from his network. In comparison, the McCain LinkedIn profile is a static resume.
In the past nine months, Obama has asked two questions on LinkedIn: "How can the next president better help small business and entrepreneurs thrive?" to which he has received 1,493 replies, and "What ideas do you have to keep America competitive in the years ahead?" to which he has received 2,796 replies. And these are not "Ohmigod, dude, your so awesome!!!" replies -- they are thoughtful, lengthy pieces from the braintrust that makes LinkedIn so valuable.
Obama is using this generation of social networking tools in the same way that Howard Dean -- now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and whose "50-state strategy" Obama has also adopted -- leveraged MeetUp four years ago to help mobilize people all over the U.S. to help his campaign.
Dean's failed campaign demonstrates that there's more required than just making use of technology, and having a million Facebook friends doesn't help if they don't actually go vote. But while comparisons between Obama and John F. Kennedy are getting cliched, it represents the same sort of sea change in political campaigning as the way JFK used television to defeat Richard Nixon.