The Obama 2012 reelection team announced today that it is taking over the president’s Twitter and Facebook accounts as part of its strategy for maintaining control of the White House for another four years. President Obama will even be writing some tweets himself, something the team says he hasn’t had the time to do since assuming his role as Commander-in-Chief in 2009.
“Obama for America staff will now be managing both accounts, posting daily updates from the campaign trail, from Washington, and everywhere in between,” said an Obama for America statement posted to BarackObama.com. “You’ll be hearing from President Obama regularly, too; on Twitter, tweets from the President will be signed ‘-BO.’”
By making a concerted effort to fully engage the social networks’ audiences, the Obama campaign hopes to connect with voters in a more intimate way. The team says they will also be adding frequent posts to Obama’s official Facebook page, which will be used not only for standard news and updates, but also to ask constituents questions, and get their feedback on how the president is doing on the campaign trail.
President Obama’s embrace of technology is well known. When he first took office, much ado was made about his super-secret smartphone, a custom-made device with bolstered security to protect Obama’s sensitive conversations. And the president recently revealed that he is a proud owner of Apple’s iPad tablet.
Obama’s gadgets aside, visitors to BarackObama.com can log in to the site with their Facebook credentials. And the Obama campaign kicked off this year with a first-ever townhall-style meeting at the Facebook headquarters, which was broadcast exclusively online, on the social network. The president also publishes his weekly address to fellow Americans on YouTube. And photos from the White House Flickr stream (taken by official White House photographer Pete Souza) have become a popular staple of Obama’s presidency.
As the Obama administration has further embraced Facebook, so too has the social network become more entrenched with Washington insiders. Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs was rumored to be considering a job as a Facebook communications head. This never came to fruition, however, as the role was eventually filled by Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary to Bill Clinton.
While the Obama team’s increased attention to social networking may seem progressive, they are actually playing catchup with congressional Republicans in some ways: A recent study by TweetCongress shows that Republicans publish more than twice as many tweets as do their Democratic counterparts.
What effect social media will have on the 2012 presidential election remains to be seen, of course. But if you want to get an audience with the president, Twitter and Facebook should be the first place you go.