Tonight, President Obama will give the annual State of the Union address, and the White House wants this year's SOTU to stand out in one specific way: increased interaction.
As we approach the 2012 Election, Obama's team has made a social media push that involves expanding into outlets that are a bit off the beaten path. Of course, the administration's presence on both Twitter and Facebook is well documented and fierce. Both the official Barack Obama and White House Twitter accounts have millions of followers and have used strategies in the past to engage citizen participation. But they have moved into other networks in the past few months. In August 2011, the President joined Foursquare and the next month he joined Tumblr. Earlier this month, the campaign team joined photo-filtering social network Instagram. And last week, the White House finally joined the Google+ party.
With social media obviously such a key part of the Obama team's strategy, it should come as no shock that they are hoping to involve viewers of the SOTU via relevant channels.
The White House is asking that SOTU viewers participate in the discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Users are being directed to used the #SOTU hashtag on Twitter, and Facebook users can join the discussion on the official White House page - where they can also RSVP to watch the address.
There are also plans for a post-SOTU discussion panel. Senior Obama advisors will sit down and answer questions after the speech, and the questions will come from submissions on the White House site as well as ones posted to Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat.
And in just under a week after the SOTU address, President Obama will sit down for a Google+ Hangout. The discussion during that event will be driven by top questions on YouTube. Some lucky YouTubers will be asked to take part in the live conversation on January 30th.
Whitehouse.gov is advertising an enhanced livestream of the President's speech starting Tuesday at 9pm EST.
There, the address will stream right next to accompanying charts, figures, and other graphics that support topics that the president is discussing in the speech. For instance, if Obama is talking about the gap between CEO and Worker salary in America, you might see a pie chart or other relevant graphic on the side.
People that don't want to deal with the enhanced broadcast can also watch the standard broadcast on the site.
Host or Find a State of the Union Watch Party
If you want to make watching the SOTU a real-life social event, you can create your own Watch Party event on barackobama.com. If you don't feel like hosting, you can also search by zip code to find Watch Parties in your area.
For instance, in my area, the State Democratic Headquarters have advertised a Watch Party, saying: "Join us for some good old Democratic fellowship and discuss how you can help this hard working President! In the past, President Obama's State of the Union address has been a plan for the year ahead -- and the priorities outlined in those speeches have led to many of this administration's accomplish..."
Will you be watching the President's SOTU address? Will you participate using social media? Let us know in the comments.