Jan Knight Not Politics as Usual: Going Digital
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Friday, 28th January 2011 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added

By Jan Knight


Whether it be President Obama’s 'State of the Union' speech or a business presentation, 'going digital' is no longer a choice, it’s what’s expected. Businesses and organisations can learn from how the US President’s 'State of the Union' speech this week used digital and social media not only to promote, but more importantly to elicit input and interaction.  Just like any business that needs to reach and engage diverse audiences in different manners, social media are a must. This week they were incorporated in ways never seen before. Fast Company Magazine published a summary of how the various technologies were utilised  to foster interaction and create buzz. They describe the 'real party' as being online with much interaction than there had ever been in the past.

The Speech was of course carried live on many US TV networks - both major networks and smaller cable outlets, but the more interesting strategies included the primary US political TV network broadcasting it live via its Facebook page, while another publicly funded national station streamed the video via Ustream.  Users could interact by adding comments, Tweeting or adding to Facebook posts.

The White House itself posted charts, dates, URLs and pictures on its website directly alongside the video of the President speaking. As the Speech was given, appropriate data and images ranging from topics like education, clean energy plans and the country’s gross domestic product to salmon (you had to be there!) were shown.

There were even a fair number of online outlets who posted feedback on real-time fact checking during the actual speech, something that has traditionally only taken place, and been argued about, after the event.

Twitter postings from (#SOTU, #StateoftheUnion and "Union Address") zipped to the top of the charts in the Trending Topics. Not only were the viewers Tweeting but some Senators and Congressmen in attendance were also active on Twitter.  Even more interesting was that President Obama 'appeared' to be Tweeting during the actual speech, not of course on his own BlackBerry, but with the help of a substitute.  Following the event, various personnel from the President’s policy teams participated in a live online panel taking questions via Facebook and Twitter. The opposing Republican party, not to be left out of the technological foray, posted video responses to Tweets via YouTube.

The White House is currently turning the State of the Union into a four-day affair with its SOTU website which carries a tag line of 'Watch and Engage'.  Readers can even download an iPhone app to their mobile devices to keep up with the latest news from the blog and newsroom.  It really isn’t just politics as usual anymore.

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