The president’s election-year State of the Union messaging strategy this week has included increased use of social media channels in an attempt to reach audiences in a different way and extend the conversation beyond a single day news cycle.

Tactics included:


VP Biden (@VP) kicking off his first live Twitter chat

Will all of this emphasis on using new channels to reach citizens make a difference? I’m certain the White House hopes so.

TV ratings of the speech, a standard measuring stick for the past 40 years, showed that this year’s viewership was down 12% from last year’s address. The NY Times notes that its also the fewest number of viewers yet for President Obama, down 21% from his 2010 SOTU. I haven’t seen any reports yet that have tried to aggregate online viewership or interaction, but intuitively it would seem some of the decline in TV viewers could map to shifts in how people are watching all types of content today. With Neilsen reporting a drop in TV ownership and a move to watch on multiple platforms, the White House may be out front with its increased use of social, taking a  “fish where the fish are” approach.

Let’s hope the White House shares the results of their social State of the Union efforts so other agencies can learn what tactics work best for citizen engagement, much as they did when Kori Schulman, White House deputy director for digital strategy, spoke at a recent conference about the #40dollars Twitter campaign (read more about that campaign  in this Washington Post story).

It should be noted the GOP  had some social communications tactics built around the State of the Union, including a Twitter hashtag campaign centered on #1000days. For some detail and analysis on that effort, check out ReadWriteWeb as well as Alex Howard’s breakdown on GovFresh.