Some might doubt the power of Twitter, but US President Barack Obama is not one of their ilk, as he launched his 2012 re-election campaign not on the back of a bus like his two previous incumbents, but by posting a cryptic web address on his Twitter profile.
The link leads to barackobama.com, where his announcement to join the campaign for re-election embraces another internet phenomenon — YouTube. A two-minute video (available in high definition, of course) spells out Obama’s intention to re-enter the race, not via his words; but by those of a carefully selected spectrum of American voters, who share their reasons for supporting Obama in his campaign.
Following on from the soaring success of his last campaign catchphrase, “yes we can”, the Obama campaign continues its sloganeering, the video ending by claiming: “It begins with us.” Another call to arms, not across Washington, or America, but the whole world. A far cry from travelling city by city, speaking to the people in person, on an expensive and tiring bus.
It’s no surprise to see Obama using social media again. It was his campaign’s perceptive embracing of modern technology that played a large role in his ascension to the White House, as well as his competition’s neglect of the younger audiences that inhabit the online world.
The campaign already has a trending hash tag (a keyword that groups global tweets on one particular subject), #Obama2012, which enables those inclined to enter into direct dialogue with others. It also means Obama’s team can monitor the knee-jerk reaction Twitter inspires in the majority who use it.
In same way way social media has reshaped how we view events such as the riots in Bahrain and Egypt, it would appear that social media is going to continue to shape Western politics just as broadly. Don’t hold your breath for a forward-thinking British politician to follow suite so effectively. We’ve only just embraced leadership debates, on that one-way-only box in the main room – the TV.
Photo taken by Flickr user jamesomalley, licensed under Creative Commons.