May 2nd, 2009

The White House and Social Media

I made the point last night during SWIM that I think the media only started adopting social media at its fervent rate upon the use of social media by the Obama presidential campaign.*  His campaign used social media comprehensively and did it right.  Obama as president hasn’t let the social media advocates down: he proves that social media isn’t just for getting elected with the launch of White House 2.0.

By far, the best part of White House 2.0 is the Official White House Photostream on Flickr.  Social media is “about” a lot of things, but for President Obama it is about conveying his personality and bundling his messages up in that personality under an assumed premise that if we like him as a person, we will like what he has to say as a president, too.  That is what these photos seem to say.  And social media is good for that purpose.  We see him laughing; it seems genuine; we believe everything is going to be okay.  Our photogenic president appears serious when it is appropriate, accessorizes fashionably for events, and exudes confidence (or ego) in his overall presentation. 

In addition to the Flickr stream, on Friday the White House announced an official Facebook page, MySpace page and Twitter account.  There are also video postings by the White House on YouTube, Vimeo and iTunes.  All of this was announced as an effort to be more transparent and to engage the public.  And, they are allowing comments on all of these sites.  What I am not seeing in all of the comments are responses from the White House.  It makes me wonder if they are monitoring all of this feedback and providing a real two-way communication, or if this is simply another way to “push” information under the guise of engagement.  If they are not responding yet, I predict they will be soon: this White House knows how to use technology, the Internet and social media.

* While I recognize that many journalists and some media outlets had already recognized its power, for the rest of the slow-to-change media bunch, Obama’s success with social media was the turning point.  And now they just can’t stop talking about it.

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