Many in politics have lamented the need for the 30- and 6-second soundbite, in which elected officials no longer make detailed policy statements, but instead customize their remarks to fit into a 6 or 30 second soundbite.
It appears we are now entering the next level. From a Los Angeles Times article:
…in 2015, just giving a speech in prime time is no longer enough. The platform that introduced to the world the Four Freedoms and the War on Poverty is now a Twitter-friendly, YouTube-able event to be consumed in as many ways as Americans have screens.
The report noted that the President is using social media to promote his initiatives and engaging in interviews with YouTube stars. This is in response, at least in part, to a decline in viewership of the State of the Union address – the White House is trying to use social media to reengage the American public.
Well, at least no one has said that the President will make policy statements in 140 characters or less.
So, what does this mean? If you believe, as I do, that social media can be an exceptionally good thing for civic engagement, its good news: The President is using social media to better engage in a conversation with the American people. Obviously there is a political purpose to this as well: the President and his team are hoping to use social media to boost their message, influence and reach.
If you are involved in politics and government, what are the takeaways here? A few things:
- Social media is vitally necessary to augment your reach – however, the emphasis here needs to be on the word augment. It’s difficult to use social media for message creation in and of itself, but you can use it to enhance and amplify whatever point you are trying to get across.
- Need a boost to a traditional platform? Social media is the way to go. As the White House is proving, you can use social media to reinvigorate a platform that has become “stale” and in need of an injection of activity.
- When it comes to communication platforms, the old and the new have merged. The challenge for the White House will be to maintain the dignity of the State of the Union while still using new communications platforms. For example, at campaign rallies, it is standard for hashtags to be displayed on signage. That, obviously, is not possible for the State of the Union (a hashtag sign behind the President would be just a bit tacky). So, will they create a hashtag for the event ahead of time? For specific proposals that the President is going to make?
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts – what kind of luck will the President have with using social media with the State of the Union? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!