The First Social Media President

By Jessi Pierce


Like many presidents and politicians before him, President Barack Obama and his staff have taken advantage of new media to rally, inform, persuade, and engage the public.

Media has always played an instrumental role in presidential politics.

1924: President Calvin Coolidge delivers the first-ever radio-specific address to the public.

1960: Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy squared off in the first-ever televised presidential debate, with Kennedy’s appearance and charisma widely  to be the main reason he defeated Nixon.

1994: President Bill Clinton and his administration launched the first-ever official White House website.

2008: Barack Obama leveraged a strong social media presence, beginning with Twitter (@barackobama), to attract a younger voting audience. It worked. Today his social media game is stronger than ever, including the launch of an official President of the United States Twitter account (@POTUS) in 2015, and a White House Twitter account (@WhiteHouse) that began in 2009.

Since joining Twitter in 2007, Obama’s original account—now managed by an Organizing for Action staff—has grown to 65 million followers and counting, with more than 14,000 tweets on record. His account ranks fourth in “Twitter’s Top 100 Most Followers,” behind Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift.

In addition, the newly launched @POTUS handle broke a Guinness World Record, reaching 1 million followers in less than five hours.

Just like in any business, Obama and his administration have recognized the importance of social media as a marketing tool. On Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, Obama becomes humanized. No longer is he simply viewed as just the leader of the United States. He’s seen as a family man on Instagram, a person who can have a laugh at himself on YouTube, and still someone who is dedicated to his job. Social has transformed the political media landscape, and we are continuing to see that today amidst another presidential election season.

Bottom line: whether you’re the president of the United States, CEO of a major corporation, or a marketing director at a small business, make social media a part of your plan. Own your presence and use it to connect with your target audience, whether it’s a voter in rural Kentucky or a new business prospect.