How The White House Uses Social Media

How The White House Uses Social Media

The White House is all over social media – did you know? Before President Obama was even elected, he was already an avid social media proponent. He brought that passion with him to the White House and now their entire social media platform is one that is followed by millions of Americans.

In a Q&A with Macon Phillips, the White House’s director of New Media, he tells us how the Obama administration participates in social media to engage the public:

How do you engage with the public differently on Twitter vs. Facebook?
Just after the president gave his speech on the nation’s state of the union, we held a series of Twitter Q&A sessions with more than 30 senior administration officials. We were able to do that because Twitter is a much more conversational medium. Facebook, rather, is a better place for sharing rich content. We see that people regularly share our “photos of the day” and videos on Facebook.

What is the strategy behind your use of YouTube?
We’ve put together a series called “West Wing Week,” which offers an update on the President’s weekly activities such as when he travels and meets with foreign dignitaries, business groups, veterans or staffers. In addition, we have another video series called “The White House White Board,” where we look in depth at an issue like tax policy.

What is the White House’s most popular content to socialize?
We worked with the White House Photography Office early on to set up our President on Flickr. As a result, people can go to and sign up to get a photo of the day, which will hit their inboxes every morning.

The President recently made headlines after his Google+ hangout attracted thousands of questions. What did you learn from the experience?
The hangout session is something we are planning to do more of, but it doesn’t always have to involve the President to be meaningful. In fact, we held a hang out right after that for Startup America with Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council; Steve Case, the chairman of Startup America and Aneesh Chopra, the White House’s chief technology officer. They were able to have a face-to-face conversation with business owners around the country about what they’re doing on the frontlines and how the Obama administration can be as responsive as possible to their needs.

What are the top social strategies you’ve learned that entrepreneurs can also use to grow their businesses and following?
Go out early and often. When it comes to social media, we do have goals in mind. But we don’t sit around for weeks cobbling together an iron-clad plan before we act. We go out there, listen, get feedback, iterate on that and try to improve. It’s as important to listen as it is to speak.

Timing is vital. One the most significant campaigns we ran on Twitter was the #40dollars hashtag, which helped crystallize how people viewed extending the payroll-tax cut. It’s about being aware of what’s going on and understanding that in the age of social media, you’re just a participant. It’s not something that you can control.

As an entrepreneur, are any of these tips relevant to your small business? Do you sit around planning for weeks or do you just get out there and listen and get feedback? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

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