Reed told Marketing Week companies will only realise the full potential of social networks when they stop using them as a means to spread their messages and start actually listening to how audiences respond.
“A lot of people when they think about social, they think it is about talking. That’s a massive misnomer. Social is more and more about listening,” he says.
“A lot of people spend a lot of time acting like they do it when they actually don’t. If they were to really look at what they’re doing they’d actually notice that they’re ‘fake listening’.”
Reed is credited with overseeing the social media and targeting strategy that helped Obama beat Mitt Romney comprehensively in 2012. Almost $700m in campaign donations was raised online and it is claimed TV audience modelling he led on helped buy 20,000 more TV ads than his opponent for £100m less money.
Reed claims the key to Obama’s successful use of social media in the US election was actually using it to listen to what people cared about.
Social played a greater role in the 2012 re-election campaign compared to 2008 [when Obama was first elected] because older voters increased their use of the channel.
“In 2008 the people that were doing social media were young and into technology but in 2012 their parents were also doing it,” he says.
“That gave social media greater importance in 2012 [compared to 2008] as it had a huge amount of reach.”
Reed was speaking ahead of the DMA Technology Summit, hosted in London, at the end of this month, where he will be discussing his use of social media in the re-election campaign.