Barack Obama is no stranger when it comes to social media. During the 2008 election he was one of the first politicians to incorporate social media into his campaign strategy. Now looking for re-election, Obama is turning to social media yet again to connect with American voters. This past Monday, Obama took part in a Google+ Hangout that was simultaneously broadcasted on YouTube. Americans were encouraged to participate in the event by submitting their own questions and voting on which ones Obama should address. In total, more than 227,000 people participated, five of which were invited to ‘hangout’ with Obama.
The Google+ Hangout is a great example of how social media can facilitate real-time, two-way conversations between people who would otherwise never have the opportunity to engage with each other. Traditional political communication initiatives (the State of the Union, debates, political rallies) fail to include the voting public. If anything, I think that using social media to give ‘real’ people the opportunity to ask a presidential candidate ‘real’ questions makes for a much more democratic election. Not to mention, watching people react to Obama’s answers, and even go as far as to interrupt him, definitely made for some interesting viewing.