Obama’s Social Media Legacy

“The medium is the message.” –Marshall McLuhan, 1964

Alan Zorfas, president of the market research firm Motista, once likened Obama to “Apple” and Mitt Romney to “Dell.” The comparison, it must be noted, is not without merit. Obama was able to actualize his understanding of the social media universe into effective campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Apple is often idolized for its cutting-edge design and forward-thinking aesthetic. And at his best, Obama embodies the future of American political clarity through this innovative approach.

In one of his YouTube videos from 2008, Obama tells viewers about an essential factor of his digital strategy: Transparency. “We will put government data online in universally accessible formats,” he says. But more than this, more than granting access to everyday citizens via Tumblr interviews or YouTube clips, Obama must, too, now keep up with the changing nature of technology. In a Times Magazine essay Matt Bai noted: “Once you’re in office, the story you tell about and to the country isn’t some barely tolerable performance that distracts you from the job of being president. It is, to a large extent, the presidency itself.” And yet, most importantly is how Obama tells his story. Up until now he has out Facebook’d, out Twitter’d, and out Tumblr’d the competition. But, if he is to succeed going forward, if he is to fully accept his place in history, he must continue to embrace and adapt to the changing social media landscape.

Today, as hundreds of thousands line the National Mall, excited at the dawn of another four years, hopeful that the direction Obama has promised to take this country will prove true, his—and our—story begins anew. Today, the narrative of Barack Obama begins with a tweet.

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