Before the State of the Union address last night, the White House started a little discussion. And, they did it in the most ingenious way.
Last month, the 2.6 million followers of @WhiteHouse and the 11.6 million followers of @BarackObama on Twitter were asked "What does $40 mean to you?" with the hashtag #40dollars. The discussion was about the payroll tax cut being considered before Congress that would take an additional $40 a week out of workers' paychecks.
The premise was simple enough. People posted responses to that question, hashtagging them with "#40dollars". If you followed that hashtag on Twitter, you saw responses like:
#40dollars would cover gas to get to work to provide for my family for a week.
— Nick Sheats (@nicksheats) January 25, 2012
And #40DOLLARS adds up to $1,040 in a year.:) I'll take it!
— Remy (@RemyRadio) January 25, 2012
#40Dollars could buy me some pizza hut right now, and I'd still have cash left over.
— Lisette Jenkins (@LisetteJ_14) January 25, 2012
— miranda fields (@mirandafields32) January 25, 2012
#40DOLLARS thats a guaranteed cell phone bill paid each month
— RB (@VarsityVersatal) January 25, 2012
#40DOLLARS is gas in my ride
— lamuel pinto (@realpinto22) January 25, 2012
New OtterBox For My iPhone#40DOLLARS
— Kayla Williams (@KaylaaAlexiss) January 25, 2012
The #40dollars hashtag started trending on Twitter, with most people unaware of what it was all about. But, they asked. And word got around.
If congress doesn't act by 3/1/12 roughly 160 million Americans will see less money in each paycheck #40Dollars
— Jeremy Murray (@jsmurray) January 25, 2012
Soon a national conversation was started.
Some simply poked fun.
You Cant get NO good hair weave for #40DOLLARS
— Alicia* (@Carmella_Virgo) January 25, 2012
The White House had seized control of the narrative in the public by priming the conversation with a Twitter hashtag.
Then, during the State of the Union address last night, President Obama brought it all home: