Was #askobama a success?

July 28, 2011

Image courtesy of Zimbio.com
By Erin Rohr
At 2 p.m. on July 6, President Obama went where no president has gone before. He stepped into the East Room of the White House and went directly to the podium to address the United States. However, instead of looking out to a live audience such as at a traditional town hall meeting, he turned to his computer screen, pressed a button and went live to millions via Twitter.
Anyone, anywhere could login to Twitter, use the hashtag #askobama and Jack Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder and executive chairman, would ask the President to respond. While Obama was answering questions, a video of the meeting and every tweet streamed live on the official Town Hall website. The White House had three objectives for the meeting:

  • Amplify the president's message by making it available in new spaces.
  • Make the White House more accessible to people by answering their questions.
  • Increase participation in government by using different venues.

Many political experts expect social media to have an impact on the 2012 presidential election. Several Republican Party candidates participated remotely during the first-ever Twitter debate on July 20. And it doesn't stop there. Facebook recently announced a partnership with NBC News for a presidential debate just before the New Hampshire primaries. Twitter is also considering something similar.
Politicians are beginning to use social media for campaigning purposes, but they are just getting started. Anyone from university presidents to J.J Foley's bar in Boston now use social media to connect with their audiences, so why not politicians? It's a risky move considering the potential repercussions of these public conversations, but politicians are following the innovative and creative lead of the private sector. As citizens engage with their leaders on social media, it will likely force politicians to be more accountable for their commitment to serve.
Do you think social media will make the difference between winners and losers in the 2012 election?

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