Social Media in the Obama Presidency

Kelli asked a two part question in her post on November 5th.  How can President-elect Barack Obama continue to use social media once he is the President and how can we use our blogs effectively to “make our voices be heard”?

The first part of her question is interesting because social media played such an important role within the Obama campaign master plan but now as Kelli asks, “Will President Obama be giving Twitter updates?”

The second part is also important because as the Economist  recently announced, “Blogging is no longer what it was, because it has entered the mainstream.”

They base this observation upon the widespread adoption of social networks such as Facebook, micro-blogging such as Twitter and the opinion of Jason Calacanis that, “Blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me to it.” 

Yes, so true, not the death of blogging, but the death of the blogger as individual, as pioneer, as gunslinger in the wild wild west of the blogosphere…..because as the Economist notes, “Nearly every newspaper, radio and television channel now runs blogs and updates them faster than any individual blogger ever could.” And this has blurred the lines between  mainstream media and the blogosphere of yore….but then, wasn’t it our (the “old timers”) stated desire to have everybody blogging??

So, back to Kelli’s questions. How can President Obama continue to use social media? Slate says that most likely campaign finance laws would not allow mybarackobama.com to be run out of the white house. His Twitter page has not been updated since November 5th and his Facebook page carries a “Thank you” message.  But, his transition site,  Change.gov feels kind of, well, social.

It has a blog, albeit without comments. It asks us to tell our own campaign “stories” and/or our “vision” of his administration. There is even a job section….yes, jobs in the Obama Presidency. Warning: FBI clearance and financial disclosure might be necessary. Darn, have to fire the illegal nanny and report the millions of secret dollars made from blogging if I want to apply for that cabinet position.

So, it appears as if the Obama Presidency is being set up to be social.

As an aside, has any other President-elect so effectively used the words and the visuals of the office of the President elect to communicate leadership? Not that I recall.

So, how can we, the last remaining independent individual bloggers use social media to make our voices heard? Well, according to Farhad Manjoo of Slate “there are online petitions and Facebook groups calling on him {Barack Obama} to skip over Larry Summers and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for Cabinet positions.”  We can be lobbyists without the bucks.

I also believe that if the American people communicate their “stories” to the president and to their fellow Americans…whether it is on the President’s site or on their own blogs or social network it will go a long way in keeping President Obama in touch with the way that what happens on Wall Street and/or in the Beltway really plays out, day to day, on Main Street. are on the front lines of high gas prices, unaffordable health insurance, layoffs, usurious credit card interest rate practices, and home foreclosures. These are the stories that our elected officials need to stay in touch with…..and this day to day of life is the side of politics that we should blog about and  we need to use those contact forms the same way the mortgage bankers, credit card issuers, insurance companies do their telephones and checkbooks: to influence legislation and votes.

We the people

It is all too easy for elected representatives to forget what its like to walk in the shoes that real people have to walk in when a law is enacted or a program is cut. I had a glimpse of how easy that can be many years ago working as a caseworker for the the City of St. Louis in social services. Following the letter of the “law” I cut a young mother’s support check. I received a call from a private agency a few days later asking me if Miss X was my client. When I answered yes, they told me that Miss X and her babies were there and they were feeding them because she didn’t have any money for milk or food.

Oh, and I could visualize that poor woman and her babies without food or milk really well….I had been in their home. So we can use our blogs or the President’s site to tell our own stories or the stories of real people so that President Obama stays focused on being “our” President.

That’s my two cents. What’s yours?

Written by: Marianne Richmond

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One Response to “Social Media in the Obama Presidency”

  1. Great post; great point as well about how blogging has changed and that spirit of the rugged individual, out there in what once was the vast, untamed expanse that is the blogosphere, is sort of legend.

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