The annual State of the Union (SOTU) address by the president represents political theater at the height of spectacle, from Vanity Fair tweeting about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's sparkly headband to breathless analysis over President Barack Obama's utterance of "good job" to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as he walked toward the speaker's podium last night.
Political analysts have already pointed out that a SOTU address actually has little impact on a president's approval rating, but that does not consider the whole picture, especially in these digital times. Instead of offering the sitting president just a one time, prime-time opportunity to address Congress and a massive swath of the American public, the Internet age affords an administration with innumerable ways to maximize its SOTU content and continue the conversation both before and after the speech.
While the president will go on the road this week with stops in key swing states, his communications team has worked to ensure that his SOTU message is heard by everyone through individualized bite-size digital pieces of content. Not that interested in Obama's energy plan? Maybe you would like to check out this interactive seating chart for the First Lady's box at the SOTU. Or perhaps you want to go behind the scenes to see how the president's team puts the speech together? Well, check out this video provided by the White House. Or maybe you want more details on just what President Obama outlined? No problem. Here's an 89-page slideshare presentation with enhanced graphics.
It goes without saying that this digital savvy administration also leveraged its various social media pages to distribute the vast amounts of content related to the SOTU - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a recently opened Google+ page, YouTube - and to interact with the public through live Q&As. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will continue the discussion with a live Twitter chat as a follow-up to the SOTU. Then on Monday, January 30, the president will participate in a Google+ Hangout, answering questions submitted by the public through YouTube.
The administration is demonstrating a pitch perfect case study in how to maximize your message online through existing and original content while also engaging in the social rules of being accessible and accountable. Clearly we'll see this online blitz and social media savvy continued in the president's reelection campaign.