Barack Obama brought hope into the equation when he was first elected president in 2008. “Yes we can” was the message that resonated so greatly all around America, but Obama’s genius doesn’t only reside in this one-liner that was on everybody’s lips for a couple of months. He won 2008 because he brought hope to the American people, who were on the verge of being hit by a financial crisis, and he won 2012 by bringing up a whole new generation behind him; Obama has mastered the art of social media like few political figures before.
A Buzzfeed video starring Obama as just a typical guy fooling around before an interview was launched on Feb. 12 and literally made a “buzz.” Can the most powerful man in the world really make a fool of himself in that way? Some would argue Putin is the most powerful man in the world, but it is safe to say no one could really imagine what a Putin-Buzzfeed collaboration would look like. Obama did not even do it out of pure narcissism, unlike many of the image-obsessed youth who are consuming these same Buzzfeed articles; he was doing it to raise awareness for ObamaCare, his flagship healthcare legislation. He wanted to promote a government initiative in a “cool way.” His gamble drew many criticisms, notably from Fox News anchors Leland Vittert and Angela McGlowan, but keep in mind that Fox News’ average viewing age is 68 years old. Senior citizens are not exactly the demographic most involved with social media.
A true president of the new millennium, Obama has continually used social media to boost his career. Only the old grumpy cats with white hair who still reside in the American political landscape find a way to criticize his approach. His success is sort of an anomaly. Past presidents cannot pride themselves with such a track record, especially with youths, and social media has a tendency of bringing fire to political careers and lives in general. Take the example of Justine Sacco — ex-senior director of corporate communications at InterActiveCorp — who got fired from her job, mocked on the Twittersphere and dragged in dirt for one very misguided tweet. The social media world can be brutal, and one misstep can ruin something someone spent years to build.
Buzzfeed got over 18 million hits the day of the Obama video release, representing a unique spike on a website that gets almost 200 million hits per month, according to Quantcast, which provides traffic and statistical information about various websites. Buzzfeed is also among the top 10 most visited websites every month in the United States and is first among websites looked up “on a mobile web browser.” Needless to say, Obama knows how to get to the voters, especially the young ones who feed off of information that comes in the form of short articles or videos.
Social media is a treacherous form of communication to navigate, and Obama has used it to his advantage while others have failed in terrific fashion. However, senior citizens need to accept the fact that social media drives the new generation. Today’s youth is constantly exposed to a world full of opportunity and risk that can carry or crush lives. This is just how the world of today is. In the meantime, we can’t wait to see the first official White House Vine channel: “Thanks, Obama.”