President Obama and the great Twitter predicament.
So the president of the United States of America now has a personal Twitter account. A bold move that is perhaps a few years too late in what is such a fast moving and constantly evolving environment, but a bold move none-the-less.
Politicians and social media have never quite gone hand-in-hand. The idea that a man or woman in office or parliament can knock-down that out of touch, rich kid preconception of politicians on social media more than often backfires spectacularly.
But it’s not just his popular image that President Obama has to uphold. Not only does he have to make sure he doesn’t tweet anything ridiculously stupid or incriminating (I’m sure there’s about 300 people working on this anyway), he has to make sure he doesn’t alienate a large chunk of his country.
What Obama will almost certainly learn about Twitter, if he doesn’t already know, is that whilst it is a great way to get your voice out there without the filter of other forms of media, he’ll essentially only be talking to a certain set of people. His own supporters.
In today’s age of social media, the gap was there to be filled. With most other major political leaders already veterans on the platform, including his wife Michelle Obama who joined in January of 2013, it would seem the positives outweigh the negatives.
The idea that posting policies and interacting with Twitter would reduce the impact of important opinions and objectives is a somewhat dated preconception. Social media is now arguably seen as a well respected platform to put such points across to what is a predominantly younger audience.
What Obama and his social media team need to be weary of is the negative press that Twitter can generate. Every tweet he posts will be scrutinised anyway, but it’s the replies and backlash from opposition supporters where the press can really create a story.
With the account having only been active less than a month and a total of just 29 tweets posted, White House press secretary John Earnest has already had to address the large amount of negative responses from users regarding the Twitter account. Which poses the question, why would Obama decide to open up his Twitter account and run the risk of a constant stream of negative press with just two years left in office?
The idea that someone in such power has the ability to talk directly to people is certainly not a bad one and it is one of the many perks of living in an age of social media. Obama’s time in the White House has been riddled with struggles and as it looks to be coming to a somewhat anti-climatic end, it feels like this may be part of a last ditch effort to try and create a legacy that he desperately wanted to implement back in 2009.
Only time will tell whether the Twitter account will have the desired impact that Obama and his supporters would want. What it does prove though is the importance that social media holds even at the very top of world politics.
For those constantly in the public eye, Twitter is a useful and easy tool to use for personal benefit. What many have found out in the past though is it’s even easier for it to all go horribly wrong.