Barack Obama, Part 2: Social Media and the Presidency

29 Oct

Last week I explored some of the social media strategies that Barack Obama uses to campaign. This week, I’m going to talk about how he uses social media to communicate from the White House.

The president’s primary form of communication via a social networking site is Twitter. @whitehouse is the Obama team’s Twitter address, and they most definitely make good use of it. There are several benefits to this kind of political activism. First of all, it makes the White House seem very accessible and it connects Obama’s staff with his constituents and vice versa.

The account is used to broadcast important information, press releases, and Obama’s agenda as well as to retweet relevant comments from others and respond to questions from curious civilians. These Twitter town halls are modeled after traditional town hall meetings that typically occur in a community so that a politician can intimately connect with individuals. Online, this takes the form of tweeting questions @thewhitehouse with the tag #whchat.

These opportunities for communication are really great in theory, and I do believe that they are beneficial for everyone involved, but they have a tragic flaw: feed clogging. Whenever the White House staff is busy tweeting, my entire Twitter page is overflowing with questions from random people that can sometimes be confusing and relatively vague responses with a bunch of links from the president.

I have never personally tweeted a question for Mr. Obama, but the fact that I could if I wanted to is certainly interesting. There are so many things I would like to ask him, I should probably start thinking of questions that are 140 characters or less!

I can clog your Twitter with whatever I want because I'm the President of the USA!

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