Monday, November 9, 2015

New York Times: White House Office of Digital Strategy's Use of Social Media

This New York Times article discusses how the White House Office of Digital Strategy uses social media platforms to both push the President’s message and to engage with the public in trending topics.

Aides to the President claim that conversations about issues important to the President are happening online.  He wants to be in the same discussion sphere.  This is important, because the President should use social media to both share his stances and reasoning on policies, as well as “take the pulse” of the public on issues.

One example the authors use to illustrate this point is the President’s Vine recording to a child leukemia patient who dressed up as Batman fighting crime in San Francisco.  The child’s images spread through social media, and he affectionately became known as “Batkid.”  While this is a story that tugs at the heartstrings, it does not necessarily engage the President in a public policy discussion sphere.  It simply inserts the President in to a trending personal topic, and it likely boosts the President’s likability scores.   This is not what the White House asserts as its social media mission; yet, the article includes it as an example.  This is an accurate way to use social media, and the article accurately points this out.

The article also points out that the President rarely tweets personally.  Despite this, the examples of tweets to Ahmed show that the tweets are created in such a way and with a specific voice to give the impression that they are his personal tweets.  This is an illustration of how social media teams craft messages to be personal both in audience and tone. 

Generally, the article reports the strategies of social media used by the White House.  Some of the examples it provides enforce those strategies.  However, the examples listed above illustrate accurate ways in which social media is used, but which social media teams do not wish to have as primary reasons for using it.

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