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Twitter and Politics: Friends or Foes?

If you can believe it, we are rapidly approaching the 1 ½ year “anniversary” of the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States. This event was historic and monumental on many different levels and not the least of which is how candidate Obama utilized social media to get into office.

Now, before I get started here please relax and understand that this is not a political post. It is more about a lesson about how social media can be a real double-edged sword. Why? Well, I have heard more than one social media “expert” express disappointment in the President’s relative abandonment of the medium after he was elected. I have postulated elsewhere that he may have actually set back the usage of social media for political advantage. Why? It’s a matter of trust and many feel it was violated to some degree. If you feel the urge to argue this please leave me out. I am just parroting what I have heard more than once. So you know where I stand personally, I am not a trusting sort of any politician at any time of any party.

Fox News reports on the uptick in social media usage by the White House

Blending behind-the-scenes nuggets with a defense of President Barack Obama’s record, White House and administration officials increasingly are communicating through Twitter.

Forget press releases. White House press secretary Gibbs and his deputy, Bill Burton, are now sharing news in Twitter messages. So far 33,000 people have signed up to follow Gibbs and more than 6,000 are tracking Burton. Those two officials have a ways to go to catch actor Ashton Kutcher and his 4.6 million followers.

Ok, let’s stop here for a second. Maybe the bigger question is why in the world 4.6 million people are following Ashton Kutcher? Anyway, as the White House now becomes more aggressive in its social media efforts how do those who have been left feeling a little jilted after the run up to the election react?

I suspect this is more a matter of opinion than a measurable event because there is little hard data on any of this other than number of followers of any political figure. So the question to you is do you feel that Twitter is a political messaging force to be reckoned with or a potential land mine for those in public office? It works both ways in business but is it potentially more dangerous in the political arena? God only knows it doesn’t take a politician from either side of the aisle too long to say something that makes the rest of us scratch our heads. Do you trust 140 character versions of messages from any politician from any party at any time?

Go ahead and let’er rip. Let’s face it, whether we want it or not this technique / tactic is likely to increase exponentially as we here in the states approach an important political season this fall. Could its use be as much of a referendum on social media as it is on the potential political impact of social media? Do tell.

  • chirs

    I just did a quick response to your post. What do you think?

    http://projectvirginia.com/social-media-in-politics/twitter-and-politics-friends-or-foes/

  • http://www.infegy.com/socialradar.php Alison

    Great article on the political impact of social media. Thought you might be interested in knowing that Infegy President will be speaking on the topic of “Winning in the Political Arena with Social Media” at the AAPC’s Pollies conference later this month. During the conference, Infegy will also offer a special promotion on its social analytics platform Social Radar (http://www.infegy.com/socialradar.php) to Pollies attendees.