The Social Media President?
Veronica Jauriqui is Special Projects Manager at the Norman Lear Center.
Behind Ashton Kutcher's and Brittany Spears' Twitter feeds, President Barack Obama's is the fourth most popular feed, with more than 3 million followers. Is it any wonder, for a candidate who made social media a pillar of his successful bid for the presidency? It also made his admission last November all the more disconcerting when in front of a crowd of Chinese youth, the President admitted he had never used Twitter.
Much to-do was made of Candidate Obama's social media strategy to reach out to untapped constituencies and raise millions in political contributions. He had presence on scores of social media sites - MySpace, Facebook, BlackPlanet and Eons - with his my.BarackObama.com site hailed as the embodiment of online grassroots campaigning. The result was more than half-a-billion in donations, the majority made online and in amounts of $100 or less.
We can credit this success both to Obama's media savvy as well as to his crack team of social media strategists who appreciated how leveraging the technology and plugging into the digital dialogue could build momentum, especially with younger voters.
President Obama began his first day in office signing an executive order for all White House departments to create a "system of transparency, public participation and collaboration." Technocrats celebrated it as the dawn of a new era in politics. Then what?
A year after Obama's swearing in, it's been a lackluster showing by the administration on the social media front. Months after taking office, his Twitter feed remained surprisingly silent. No mention of what Bo the dog was up to, not even what the White House chef was making for lunch. Time magazine followed up on the White House social networking strategy in May 2009, calling President Obama's technological transformation "very much a work in progress." What happened?