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White House uses social media to amplify Obama's big speech

Sharon Gaudin | Jan. 22, 2015
The White House updated its social media efforts in an effort to control the messages coming out of the president's State of the Union address last night.

The White House updated its social media efforts in an effort to control the messages coming out of the president's State of the Union address last night.

By pulling key points from President Barack Obama's speech and highlighting them with supporting graphics and charts, videos and animated GIFs, the administration focused on tweeting, posting updates on Facebook and uploading photos on Instagram.

With all of the tweets and retweets from the administration and people watching the State of the Union at home, as well as from political allies and opponents, it was a big night for Twitter.

The social networking site reported that, from beginning to end of the annual speech, Twitter saw 2.6 million tweets about the address. That's a 52.9% increase from last year when Twitter logged in 1.7 million tweets about Obama's 2014 address.

"I think last night went well for the White House and social media," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "The administration got their talking points across in their own words. This was particularly true in their positions on the middle class discussion. It was worth the time they put into it. The alternative is for the detractors to gain the upper hand through their own social media efforts."

The White House said earlier this week in a blog post that it was intensifying its social media efforts to better get its message out regarding the goals the president would lay out during his speech Tuesday night.

"We're constantly on the lookout for new ways to use digital channels to better engage with the public and give people a way to participate and interact with President Obama," Nathaniel Lubin, acting director for the White House Office of Digital Strategy, wrote in a blog post. "You'll generally get the kind of real-time experience usually reserved for sports events and technology company product demos."

Along with the tweets and Facebook posts, the administration posted state-by-state and demographic data points in real-time on On the site, users were able to answer questions, share feedback, find related material and share social media content.

The site was designed to work equally well on the desktop and mobile devices.

Obama and his team have been on the top of the social media game since his first presidential run, connecting with younger voters through sites like Facebook and Twitter. Now years later, he is kicking up his social efforts.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, said the administration is smart to do so.

"Social media cuts out those who speak on behalf of, interpret and reinterpret the president's original message," he said. "The White House's use of social media can, in a way, short circuit many of our familiar avenues of information dissemination, namely the television networks, bringing citizens one step closer to the administration and allowing them the room to better make their own decisions, rather than rely upon the opinions of others."


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