Earlier this week, President Obama joined Facebook in an effort to expand the administration’s digital reach. And starting Friday, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is hosting weekly “office hours” to chat directly with the American people about some of the most pressing issues facing the nation.
At 12p.m. ET, Jarrett will host a Twitter Q&A on health care and women’s health issues, as the administration aims to get at least 10 million Americans signed up for health care plans during the current open enrollment period. In the first week, about 550,000 people signed up for insurance.
Every week, the Obama administration will choose a new topic for Jarrett to explore with the American people—highlighting both priorities of the administration like LGBT rights, climate change and criminal justice reform, as well as issues of interest to every day citizens. The weekly session—which will be hosted on a range of social media, from Tumblr to Google Hangouts—will also add to the president’s ever-growing digital presence, led by the White House’s Office of Digital Strategy.
Obama’s recently launched Twitter account has allowed him to both release fact sheets about key policy decision and join viral conversations like the one that surrounded Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teen who was arrested when his clock got mistaken for a bomb. A few weeks ago, Obama invited Ahmed and several other youth to an Astronomy Night event on the South Lawn. When Twitter was abuzz on Back to the Future Day, the official @POTUS account chimed right into the conversation.
Aside from engagement, social media has also allowed Obama to circumvent middle men like the news media all together, another aspect of the president’s communication strategy.
“Ultimately, what all of this is about is finding ways to communicate with people in a time when media has become so disaggregated that simply communicating through the traditional news is woefully insufficient,” Obama’s former adviser Dan Pfeiffer told the New York Times this week.
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