Posted November 16, 2009 7:23 am by with 11 comments

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Obama Twitter Data JPSocial media is about community, right? Social media is about relationships, correct? What is required in a genuine relationship? People exchanging ideas and thoughts with each other and getting to know each other is how I look at it in an incredibly basic sense. At least that’s what I think. While social media is considered to be advancing our ability to connect with others it is still important to caution just how much we trust who is saying what. In other words, your relationship with many is more likely to be with a handler than the real person.

I realize this is nothing new and I am not setting the world on fire with this but I came across this post at TechCrunch and it certainly made me think a little. Barack Obama, the President of the United States admitted on his current trip to China that he has never used Twitter. Huh? Wasn’t his campaign the one that utilized social media like never before so his supporters could have a feeling that they were truly a part of history in a real sense?

This is not a political discussion so if you are getting all “blue” or “red” state on me just go read something else. This is about someone who utilized a technology for some advantage in a very important situation then admitted that he never used the technology personally. I find that a little disturbing and we, as social media professionals and watchdogs, should have some opinion on this practice (not the person or anything else, just the practice). Oh and let’s put out ‘preemptive strike’ on all of the “If you were stupid enough to think it was actually him tweeting comments ………..” People wanting to believe they are part of something genuine is not stupid. In fact, in this world it’s hard to find.

MG Siegler reports

President Barack Obama has one of the most popular Twitter accounts with over 2.6 million followers. It should be no real surprise that most of the time it’s not him tweeting from it, instead its various people within the White House communication team that use the account to send out information. And now that he is the President, certainly there are some security concerns with him using something like Twitter. But, did you know that he’s actually never used Twitter at all?

That revelation was made tonight during a Q&A session at a town hall event with Chinese youth that was held in Shanghai this evening (which was streamed live on the web). The President fielded a question about the restricted use of Twitter in China and he had this to say, “I have never used Twitter but I’m an advocate of technology and not restricting internet access.”

Once again, I know it is silly to think that someone as busy as President Obama would have the time to knock out a tweet from time to time but if that’s the case (that he has NEVER used it) I really think it would have been more transparent to know this a little earlier. In fact, if I was one of the followers that felt like I was part of something bigger I would feel a little duped. To be transparent, I have not followed a politician (to my knowledge) on Twitter because I feel I get enough spin and rhetoric just being alive so I don’t to seek more from either side of the aisle.

TechCrunch’s visual take says it all in an ‘update’ to the President’s response to his Nobel Prize.

Obama Twitter Screen Shot 2

So who was / is actually updating this account with 2.7 million followers? I don’t know and probably never will. At this point, who really cares since we know that the President has never touched the account (although it is a Verified Account for Twitter which now means what?)

What we need to be looking at as social media “insiders” is talking a great game about transparency and then allowing the medium to be questioned and eventually devalued because there is nothing that is real. Will social media just become a place for online actors and actresses to portray others? Will we a need SMAG (Social Media Actor’s Guild) card to tweet at some point? We are treading on some thin ice in these areas when we talk about accessibility but then only fake it. Maybe being genuine is just old fashioned and overrated?

Maybe this is an emerging area of the online reputation monitoring and management industry which will require policies and actions on what to do when your social media persona is ‘found out’.

  • I believe that transparency is important, but honestly, isn’t the messages being sent out there the most important thing on a Twitter Account? Certainly I’d like to think that the President has some over site to his Twitter account, or at least trusts the persons sending out the messages. While I’d like to believe that each person is actually sending out his or her own Twitters, I believe that the helpful, informational info and links are really my priority. Once the links start getting too spammy or useless, that is when I stop following.
    .-= Cathlyn Driscoll´s last blog ..Best Business Mastery Email Consultation (sold in U.S. dollars) =-.

  • As a close follower of Obama, I had a personal understanding that it wasn’t him sending out the tweets or updating his Facebook page or the myriad of other social media positions he has. There’s simply no way one person could have updated all of the content that was updated under his name.

    But I’m quite sure there are people who think it’s him somehow getting access to post content to a social media site. He has the most locked down Blackberry in history, possibly and probably doesn’t even email Hillary because of security and such.

    All that said, if it would make the social media space feel better, maybe there should be a disclaimer on his social media sites that say something like: Messages from the President presented here by White House Staff.
    .-= Sage Lewis´s last blog ..Free Ticket To SES Chicago =-.

    • @Sage – That’s certainly an option.

      I believe that one thing we have to remember in our industry is just how ‘unsophisticated’ the vast majority of people are with this stuff. Imagine the Facebook followers of the President. Do you think they even thought anything other than ‘I am hearing from Barack Obama!”?

      It is SO important for us to step outside of our assumptions of people being social media savvy and make sure we see everything from the eyes of everyman. Their numbers are bigger.

      Thanks for checking in!
      .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..PR Means “Premature Readiness” for NEC =-.

  • I am actually a fan of transparency and disclosure in social media. It helps orient me to know who I’m dealing with.

    For example, if a company is doing a clever campaign using social media, if it’s fun and good, I’m all for it… as long as they are clean about who is doing the talking.
    .-= Sage Lewis´s last blog ..My Cleveland State University Search Engine Optimization Class =-.

  • Adi

    Sadly this is common in all manner of spheres. The vast majority of articles written by famous people are actually written by their PR departments. It’s a sham. As a child at school you’re taught that putting your name to work that is not your own is wrong. I wonder what went wrong?

  • ObamaFan

    This is silly. Of course it’s not him tweeting personally. What? Did you think he was writing ALL those campaign emails too? Yes social media is based on relationships as well as real time sharing of information. But, I think we need to be realistic about our expectations of those we follow that are in power or are in the media spotlight. It is no different than a client hiring an agency to handle their Facebook page and Twitter account. Next you’ll be asking for actual avatars of the actual person tweeting. !!

  • Dean

    With all due respect to your “pre-emptive strike”…

    Followers of Obama’s Twitter account feel duped? I mean people actually thought for one moment that the Leader of the Free World, dealing with a deep recession, wars in the Middle East, reforming Health Care, and paper training a puppy would find time to Tweet??

    If so, I suppose there is merit to believe that the Ab-Roller will sculpt your midsection in 10 days, that Nigerian guy really does have millions of dollars he need you to sneak out of the country, and Axe body spray will make the girls swoon.

    C’mon Frank – maybe its time we all step away from the Social Media juice and start drinking some common sense soda. Show me anywhere in the Social Media Constitution where it says “People will be genuine and transparent when they tweet because that just the rule – No duping allowed”)

    BTW – It really doesn’t matter much. I just saw a movie and the world is gonna end in 2012 anyway.

  • Well I was duped then, but one of the 418 tweets to be just him saying something like “I like my dog” (even if that took him half a day to type it down) would’ve been better than say “I have never tweeted”. They could’ve been more honest and say on the bio “From the Office of the 44th President”. I don’t know, I know people can get excited about the whole idea, but one out of 418 would’ve been more pleasant. –Paul
    .-= Paul L’Acosta´s last blog ..marketingfails: RT @christineptran: Verizon is no angel either. Check out NYT post about Verizon screwing over customers. Shameful! =-.

  • Pingback: Ari Herzog: Do You Care That President Obama Does Not Tweet? | News from: The Huffington Post - Breaking News and Opinion()

  • Hmmm He should of at least send one tweet so that he could have said…Sure I have tweeted. I can’t much now but I did while campaigning.

    .-= Steven Roddy´s last blog ..Succeed in the Little Things =-.

  • Gin

    I enjoy seeing tweets from the White House which is more than I can say for the Canada gov’t. I think it’s great that tweets are sent out (even if it is Mr. Presidents EA) as it provides a sense of comraderie with those that care and the curious. Interaction does leave a sense of a, ‘I hear you,’ message.