Nothing says America is into social media quite like this year’s State of the Union rollout plan—which was chock full of Vines, hashtags and YouTube stars. And really, it should come as no surprise. Marketers have long been heralding the importance of going to the consumer, reaching them on the platforms where they are already organically participating, to get a message heard. But somehow, it still feels a little radical to see a US President announce policy decisions on the platform best known for six second videos of silly faces and Justin Bieber look-alikes.
The White House is making it clear that reaching and exciting and engaging millennials is a critical KPI of this year’s State of the Union. And as this administration has proved particularly adept in the past at mobilizing the younger generation, the rest of us can learn a lot from their tactics.
While I didn’t have a high enough security clearance to access the White House’s full roll-out SOTU strategy, there are a few key maneuvers I’ve taken note of:
Pre-Speech Announcement on Vine
With over 208k followers, Vine is nothing new to this administration. And yet, this Vine from President Obama unveiling his plans to provide two free years of community college, a cornerstone of his SOTU speech, gained a lot of traction online.
The secret? The first was picking a topic particularly relevant to the platform’s audience and the second was the social-first approach. The video—which was promoted on Twitter and Facebook as well—was not a recap of a decision leaked to the traditional media first and then translated online. Instead, Obama managed to give social media users—the true targets of this plan—first access to the news, making them more likely to share.
Post-Speech Interviews with Vloggers
In a modern day take-it-to-the-streets move, immediately following last night’s speech, the President opened himself up for interview to–arguably—the biggest millennial influencers of the day. Teenage make-up artist Bethany Mota, comedian GloZell and musician Hank Green have all been soliciting questions from their viewers and will interview President Obama over the course of the next day and a half.
Why do we love vloggers like these so much? Because they’re this generation’s Pretty Woman—the every man who hit gold just by being themselves. Yes they’re entertaining, but more importantly, they’re relatable. As we watch them sit down with the President, we get to imagine being in their shoes and Obama gets to show that he’s not too good to talk to one of us (of course, their combined 13.8 million YouTube followers doesn’t hurt either).
— Bethany Mota ∞ (@BethanyMota) January 18, 2015
#AskTheWH Online Open House
Comparing the idea to the infamous Big Block of Cheese Day popularized by Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing (a comparison that goes a long way in scoring points with the millennial’s older siblings), White House senior officials will be taking user’s questions all day long today across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Check out the video below (with beloved West Wing characters) for the full scoop on the idea, described as “Reddit, but like without all the weird stuff.”
So, did social make SOTU “cool?” The jury may still be out. At the least, the President certainly went a long way to show that he’s a man of the [young] people, and I for one am excited to watch the White House try to take the “stuffy” out of government and show that a democracy can be… well… a little more democratic.