How to Tweet for the President of the United States

Rachel Ramsey : Social Spotlight
Rachel Ramsey
Graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Media Arts and Design and a minor in Communication Studies
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How to Tweet for the President of the United States

Election night is two weeks behind us, but Laura Olin, a social media strategist for the Obama campaign, has just opened up about what it’s like to be the voice of the President online. Election night not only made history for declaring Barack Obama’s second term in the White House, but it made social media history as well.


The tweet, “Four more years,” accompanied by a photo of the first couple hugging, has received more than 816,800 tweets and 298,700 favorites. The same photo was uploaded to Facebook and also bashed records. When it hit 2.1 million likes it became the most-liked photo on Facebook of all time. On Election Day, there were 71.1 million election-related posts and comments in the U.S.


But even before Obama won the 2012 election, his campaign was noted for embracing the digital age, and especially social media. What’s it like to be the face of the President of the United States on social media? Olin gave us some answers.

Some key comments from Olin’s interview with Tumblr and The Daily Beast:

  • The team tailored messages for different channels and audiences. The decisions for posts were not direct directives from the White House, and they tried to have voices for each account.
  • “One thing I was really proud of was we always tried to be really human, like speak to people like we’d like to be spoken to, and never go into, you know, ‘speechiness.’ We actually had a list of banned words — like, don’t use words that only politicians use in speeches, don’t be a douchebag, stuff like that.”
  • Choosing people for the team included people who not only were creative and “knew their social media shit,” but were really fanatical about fact checking and accuracy. When you’re managing the President’s social media accounts, millions of people are waiting for your one grammatical error. (See: Amercia.)
  • They adapted to what the social mediasphere liked. The team embraced the GIF because they recognized it would have a better reach than just a static image. “This isn’t rocket science at all, but I think something that we discovered — or tried to implement — was that if you put things in terms that people actually want to share, they will share them. Political campaigns historically haven’t totally gotten it.”
  • The team posted the most viral photo/tweet/post ever and didn’t know it until the next morning. “I hit post, and then closed my laptop and we jetted to the victory party. Actually, none of us looked at how the posts were doing until I opened my laptop the next morning.”
These are important things to remember when tweeting for any organization. If Laura Olin and her team can get it right representing the U.S. President, facing millions of people (most ready to scrutinize) you can definitely get it right for your campaign. In case you are looking for some extra help, here are three Twitter tools to enhance your marketing & manage your Twitter presence.
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