President Obama has been posting tips about his stops on the Midwest economic bus tour through the White House Foursquare account. Beyond accruing ‘cool’ points, what might be the motivation behind setting up yet another social media channel? Here’s my take on what this means:
Mobile grassroots campaign: The President will continue with a grassroots approach that taps young adults in his 2012 bid. Foursquare has set up an automated system so that the White House account immediately follows back every account that starts following Obama. Currently, there are close to 30,000 followers on the @whitehouse Foursquare account. That’s 30,000 (and growing) mobile contacts that can be mobilized locally in the following phases of the campaign.
Obama’s social media share of voice will grow organically: In the 2008 elections, online searches we ran using social media monitoring tools had to be cleaned of unrelated Obama comments. The name was everywhere. We’ll see a rise on search results and posts with Obama tags, thanks to Foursquare check-ins not only from the White House, but Obama followers.
Politics will infuse personal social network accounts: Let’s not forget the connecting ties between networks. Foursquare check-ins can easily be Facebook status updates or turn into Tweets. Dashboards like Tweetdeck allow users to manage multiple accounts from one spot. A check-in at an Obama event can spread to multiple personal networks at once.
Security risk? Is it safe for a President to communicate where he is so often and in almost real-time? Arguably, it may not be the best idea. But citizen reporters with social media access are already reporting Obama sightings with updates, pictures, videos. The media are following the Obama tour closely. @whitehouse account is just another official channel of information that’s helping the Obama campaign steer the agenda and direct traffic to Whitehouse.gov and the blog.