5 Highlights from Obama's Social Media Life

President Barack Obama has been known as a master of social media since his first inauguration in 2009, and as technology evolves, the administration shows no trouble in keeping pace.

by / August 25, 2015

It’s got nothing to do with black or white, Democrat or Republican. President Barack Obama engages his public in ways no other president has and it’s because the world is changing. For the president to reach his people, especially young people, he has to meet them where they are. Media and popular culture become more decentralized each day. CNN alone won’t cut it anymore for getting a message out and so the administration is ensuring the president’s face isn’t some irrelevant monolith, but a magnanimous participant in the dippy world of social media.

Fifty years ago, if someone’s necktie were askew, the neighborhood considered the possibility the man was a serial killer, but in 2015, a neck tattoo and a pink beard means that guy runs a hot new startup. American presidents have often pursued a “regular guy” image to better pander to their constituency, and since neon facial hair is out, sitting down with a comedian or fielding questions from anonymous Internet savages isn’t considered beyond the pale – it’s business as usual for @POTUS.
 
Here are a few things Obama does that past presidents would have been ill-advised to participate in:
 
Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

 
In March 2014, Obama sat down with comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis to produce a comedy sketch for the Web show Between Two Ferns. The president showcased his poker face and his acting chops as Galifianakis shot him passive-aggressive insults. The old fear of joining such a production was that the president would damage his image, but Obama came across as likeable and entertaining. Even the staunchest of Republicans forgot their hatred for this six minutes.
 
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and the Web
The president tweets from the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS, periodically. A Facebook page with his name promotes his latest projects. Instagram is there so why not use it? Websites like barackobama.com have played an integral role in the president’s campaign from the start. And he’s even on LinkedIn, for some reason.
 
 
Spotify
 
Earlier this month, the president released two Spotify playlists for the summer season, one for day and one for night. Artists like the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Justin Timberlake, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and Mos Def are represented.
 
 
WTF with Marc Maron
 
Comedian Marc Maron’s shtick is that of a man narcissistically obsessed with his own neuroses. His commitment to self-perpetuated pain has made his WTF podcast one of the most popular online, yielding him about $15,000 per episode, according to a 2014 celebritynetworth.com assessment. Maron does the podcast from his home garage, and the president sat down with him for an hour on June 22 to jaw about current events and slip in a few grinds of the ax under the guise of freeform dialog.
 
 
 
Reddit Surprise AMA (Ask Me Anything)
 
In 2013, the president held a surprise 30-minute question-and-answer session on social news website Reddit as part of his second-term campaign. More than 22,000 users asked the president questions, and he answered questions about things like the White House beer recipe, Afghanistan, Michael Jordan being his favorite basketball player, and Internet freedom.
 
 
Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.