Thursday, January 22, 2015

#SOTU: State of the Union Goes Social

President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address Tuesday evening, a topic that wasn't just trending in traditional media but on social media as well. I myself viewed the address on one screen and had my Twitter feed on another to keep up with public responses. I was surprised to find that my newsfeed consisted of almost exclusively State of the Union posts (along with a number of Flyers vs. Penguins tweets as the game between the rivals headed into overtime).

According to the White House’s Twitter account, it was the most interactive State of the Union address ever with 1.2 million views and Twitter reported that over 2.6 million tweets were posted using the hashtag #SOTU. Facebook also had similar results, announcing that “5.7 million people on Facebook made 13.8 million interactions (posts, likes, comments, shares) related to the President’s State of the Union address” that day.

In an effort to create a broader audience for the traditionally “old-media” event, the White House communications team  decided to revamp the way they promote the address. This year, they focused not just on traditional media like newspapers and television, but creating videos, digital op-eds and even six-second GIFs. The White House twitter account also live tweeted infographics, images and quotes in real time as Obama discussed various topics like sustainable energy and education costs. The same images appeared on television in a split screen with the live speech itself.

“To not have an aggressive social media strategy in 2015 would be the equivalent of not having an aggressive TV strategy in the 1950s.” –Dan Pfeiffer, White House Director of Communications

This year was the first time ever that the White House released the SOTU speech to the public prior to the address. In keeping with efforts to bring politics to the digital generation, it was released via Medium, a blogging platform created by the founders of Twitter.

But out of all the points President Obama made in his address to the American people, the most talked about moment on social media was by far:


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