The Meme President

The hearts of the country were captured this week through the adventures of the #SFBatKid.  In case you missed it: the Make-a-Wash Foundation recruited 11,000 volunteers to make Miles’ dream come true.  Miles, 5, wanted to be Batman and save the city.  He spent the day traversing San Francisco, dressed as Batman.  His adventures included saving a damsel in distress who was tied to the trolley tracks, capturing the Riddler and saving the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, who had been kidnapped.

The entire story was made for Social Media.  Over a 12 hour period, over 220,000 tweets were sent using the #SFBatKid hashtag.  Among them was a tweet from the President of the United States:

The President then cut a Vine that was released shortly after this tweet was sent:

https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/401474141569572864

This might not seem like much, but this is actually a big deal. The President’s schedule is cemented days ahead of time, and his Social Media plans likely are as well.  It takes tremendous flexibility to alter a plan, but that’s what Social Media is made for.  What impresses me more than the tweet is the Vine.  Yes, it’s only three seconds, but the President and his staff understand that you don’t need a script or world-class production values when you are cutting a three second Vine.

Obama has a history of embracing internet culture.  Previous articles have noted that he is the first Meme President.  Part of this is timing, but Obama’s success with Social Media is second to none.

So, what’s the lesson here for politicians?

  1. Be flexible with Social Media and ready to adapt to current events.  Any politician in the San Francisco area who wasn’t tweeting with #SFBatKid is a fool.
  2. Production values aren’t as important as timing and the message.  Seriously, if President Obama can do a vine with no make-up (okay, at least minimal make-up) and poor lighting, you can do it too.  Use Social Media to show your human side.
  3. Embrace popular culture.  Again, Social Media allows politicians the opportunity to better connect with their constituents then ever before – and your constituents are clearly going to be consumers of popular culture.  There is no rule that says politicians can’t do this – in fact, thanks to the Meme President and countless others, there is now an expectation that this is how politicians should behave.

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