As advances in technology continue to erupt, many of the biggest events in our country are incorporating social media campaigns into their operations. One such event is the State of the Union address. This year, the State of the Union address went digital. Many online and social media platforms were engaged throughout the event. Here are just a few of the initiatives taken on the big night of January 25th:
- C-SPAN and PBS's News Hour broadcasted the event online, with sidebars for people to leave comments via Twitter, Facebook, and more sites
- The White House's website broadcasted the event alongside data and images reflecting the subject matters discussed
- Live stream and enhanced presentation of the address on YouTube
- Sunlight Foundation posted real-time fact-checking during the address
- A mobile app that keeps people updated on the address while they're on-the-go
- The public was having political conversations on Twitter, with hashtags #SOTU, #StateoftheUnion and #UnionAddress as trending topics
- People tweeting included some Senators, Congressmen, and the President himself
- Some of the President's policy team members held a live panel, taking questions via Facebook and Twitter
- The Republican response was broadcasted on C-SPAN, PBS and Facebook
This represents a major shift in the way conversations in politics are being carried out. No longer are political conversations simply one-way affairs that are controlled mostly by the media and politicians themselves. Now, these conversations consist of two-way dialogue between the politicians and citizens, allowing anyone who cares to join the conversation. This is exactly what the public desires: a chance to engage with the important politicians who are at the center of all of the issues, and a chance for their voices to be heard. With this social media campaign, the White House has successfully turned the State of the Union address into a significant 4-day affair instead of just a 1-hour event.
Overall, I believe the White House used social media very effectively. In the hard times that our country is facing, more and more people feel the desire to express their opinion and truly "have a say." All of these social media platforms that the White House operated before, during and after the State of the Union address gave people the chance to engage in the conversation. It shows that Obama and his administration are committed to creating and nurturing a productive dialogue throughout the whole nation.
I don't have any major suggestions for the White House on how to improve it social media strategy for the State of the Union address. It's really the first time this has been set forth and put into action, so the White House is still in the beginning stages of its social media usage. It will surely continue to test out new platforms in the years to come. In the meantime, I would recommend that the White House develop a social media strategy for all major events throughout the year. This will continue to give the public a chance to engage with politicians and media in the many political conversations that are going on.