Obamagram: A presidential influencer

I didn’t want to write about something related to politics, but I failed. It is very hard on these days to get inspiration from the Internet or any other kind of source without being bombarded with news about Trump or Pence or why did or didn’t people vote them, what is going to happen or not – it is exhausting, I know.

But I am going to talk about something different. I am going to talk about Obama and his hability to manage social media since he is possibly the first political figure that has left real footprint in it.

Let´s go back to 2008. When Obama won the elections that year, there was hope and political movement, but what you couldn’t find was Instagram or Snapchat, and Facebook and Twitter were an anecdote compared to today’s importance and weight. From there Obama has designed a communication strategy that has broken with any precedent, in many ways Obama has been the first politician in the world to connect with that lost and blurry generation called Millennials.

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If you get this you are laughing

In my opinion he has been able to take what they call the “Show-politics” and generate a profile both is social media and outside of it that, being able to be combined with the serious and presidential facet, that helped Obama connect with the general population and the millennials not only in the US but throughout the whole world.

How has he done it? In my opinion the secret of the success is the normality. Obama behaves nearly as a normal man with one difference – that he is not and therefore everyone is seeing him. That combination, with a small addition of genius that is not definable, is what it makes a perfect combination.

This is what I mean. A simple photo. No campaign signs or any kind of political message or correctness. If it wasn’t Obama this picture would have been forgotten because it doesn’t say anything special, it is too normal. But it is Obama, and those three words take a lot of meaning and the normality of the picture, which otherwise would have been boring, is what makes the photo so natural and emotional. And this is how this tweet was so powerful, getting to be one of the most re-tweeted tweets of the history of the platform to this day.

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Second key example. For the ones who live under a rock, McKayla Maroney was an American athlete that became viral by showing an unimpressed face when she received the silver medal on the London Olympics. Obama was very smart in this case. He used a popular meme of the moment, and replicated it with the author becoming viral at the moment. Again this picture shows us an sort of humane Obama, a funny and friendly president and politician. There aren´t any advertisement campaigns able to create this image as well as these kind of actions do.

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At the end Obama has been able to connect with a great amount of people by simply  approaching the politician candidate to the public in a very natural way by doing exactly what every other social media user would do. He uses social trends and memes to promote his image and himself making him a normal human being.

And the result of it? Obama has been considerably successful nationally. Gallup rates Obama in a 57% of approval, only outmatched by Bill Clinton in the 2000 with a 61% very far away from the 28% of president Bush.

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But the biggest success of Obama is not the national approval – it is how the international community sees him and his job. In Europe, for example, Obama was a game-changer on how Europe perceived not only the President but america in general

There has been other political figures that are active and popular in social media and the internet, but they haven’t been able to be establish themselves as well as Obama did. Some of them are almost a joke, with strange hair that is becoming a meme.

 

9 comments

  1. This is a great post. I’m biased because I love Obama. He has certainly entertained us using social media over the past few years. I love the photo of him and Michelle with the “Four more years” caption. It makes them both so relatable. I’m not sure I would equate his good use of social media (and his ability to be hilarious at times, like at the White House Correspondent Dinners, etc) with his approval rating, but it probably doesn’t hurt it.

  2. katieInc_ · ·

    I really like the approach you took to this blog! It’s refreshingly positive amidst a week of relatively pessimistic articles analyzing the current state of our political system. I am excited to see where future elected officials can take social media. I agree with your post — I think they would be wise to use Obama as a model for how to effectively communicate and interact with constituents.
    Another recent social media/political phenomenon that I’m obsessed with are the “Obama/Biden” memes. I can’t help but laugh out loud every time I read them. They convey a solid president/vice president friendship that I hope future vice presidents and presidents can achieve.

  3. vicmoriartybc · ·

    Like Becca, I am also a big Obama fan and very biased towards him, but I really enjoyed this post! He absolutely has been the first president to connect with millennials, especially on a digital level. I read an article earlier today that might be of interest to you: “A Complete Timeline of Barack Obama’s Most Viral Moments” on Elle.com. Over the years, he’s had many unscripted or funny moments that have inadvertently gone viral on social media. Sometimes, I forget that he’s actually the leader of the free world, because he seems so funny, down-to-earth and relatable. Future presidents should definitely try this same strategy both on and off social media.

  4. I think this post did a great job of showing sentiment that (in my opinion) many people felt about Obama. Regardless of whether people agree with his financial policies, many people would be willing to agree that Obama did a great job of showing a much more human side in his 8 years in office. I think that led to the overall satisfaction with what he was doing, especially in such a tumultuous time when it came to very difficult things like terrorism and other things regarding foreign policy. It will be interesting to see how Donald Trump does his best to use social media to bind the nation together as he mentioned he hoped he would in his victory speech. I’m hoping we can see his human side after such a divisive election.

  5. skuchma215 · ·

    No matter what you think of him and his policies, you have to agree that he is one of the most likable and genuine presidents. Great post, although it made me slightly sad we won’t have Obama in the White House anymore. One of my favorite pictures is of him pointing at a kid who fell asleep during a White House lunch event. I did not know Obama was so highly popular in Europe, especially in France and the UK. If only he was that popular here in the US. I think it will be very difficult for our new president to even come close to having the social media impact Obama had, especially since he is the farthest thing from “normal”.

  6. I’m also a huge Obama fan, and am quite sad that he’ll be leaving the White House in a couple of months. What’s great about Obama is that he had a personality and presidency that translated into a nearly perfect social media presence. He’s a smart, charismatic guy, and yet also has that dorky dad status that makes him so likable, therefore allowing him to easily become popular and loved by those on the Internet. He made history in so many ways, giving social media users so many articles and photos to share with their friends. Furthermore, his presidency was scandal free, allowing his image to go untarnished, which is a blessing in this digital era. Imagine if he had had a Bill Clinton-esque scandal while in office. With the existence of Facebook or Twitter – he would have been destroyed. Obama x social media was really one of the best parts of the Internet these past eight years, and I’m going to miss it.

  7. mikeknoll98 · ·

    When Obama took office I was highly skeptical of his social media presence. I thought it was unprofessional and even childish for the President of the free world to constantly show his normal side. Looking back now, I can say he proved me wrong and then some. By showing the world the human side of the Presidency I think this allowed people to think of Obama as less of a figure and more of a man. As social media trends have shown, people tend to like more relatable public figures, and love to feel involved in the everyday life of those they look up to. Overall great post and thanks for your insights!

  8. Really enjoyed your post! As with any politician I haven’t been able to agree with all of Obama’s policies, but I think he unequivocally one of the coolest presidents we’ve had. A great part of this coolness is his use of social media. All of the fun pictures, the tweets by @POTUS, and especially the videos. I love watching his spoof videos. Here’s one about his retirement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V77FiHk37Yg – he even makes fun of the birther movement in this video.

  9. Really nice post. I do get a bit miffed at all the talk about this being the “first real social media election” mainly because it overlooks some of the really great stuff the Obama team did in the past two cycles.

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