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The Presidential Test of Tangibility
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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It's no secret that @BarackObama changed the way presidential campaigns will be won forever. Social media is the wave of the future, and now, it's how to get the young whippersnappers to wave back at you.

So, much to many old codgers' chagrin, this hopeful tweeter-in-chief put himself into the fray, kinda. Obviously, his Twitter account was staffed by a couple of interns, but the followers went through the roof.

And why?

For the history buffs out there, this is a republic, not a democracy. We don't have equal footing on the hill; rather, we give our footing to people traipsing around it in stilettos and penny loafers.

I don't work for Gallup or Rasmussen, but if I did, I would gladly tell you most Americans don't really trust the government. There's no connection, no trust, and Twitter changes that for people. It's instant credibility, visibility and yes, tangibility. And if people think they get reach out and touch someone on the Hill, they will do what it takes.

Apparently, so will people who want to be president. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Major Domo is putting himself out there to get your attention and possibly your vote.
Obama tweeted personally early Friday evening, welcoming followers to "a new @BarackObama. From now on, #Obama2012 staff will manage this account; tweets from the President will be signed "-BO." ... Obama has more than 8.69 million followers on Twitter, making him the third most-followed account among Twitter users, according to Twitter statistics website twittercounter.com. Obama trails only entertainers Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber in followers.

He could type, "I hate radishes -BO," and that would get retweeted 1000s of times. It wouldn't matter because people want to have a conversation with their leaders, so they wait by their smartphone with baited breath waiting for a whiff of um, BO. (That didn't come out right, did it?)

Will people respect this? Many. Will some use it to express their feelings? Several. Will anyone be stupid enough to abuse it? Without question. According to Mediaite, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has decided it would fake tweet and RT some of President Obama's musings. Not good.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s getting blowback today from both the left and right for a series of fake re-tweets sent from the NRSC’s official @nrsc Twitter account. The bogus RTs each make reference to Democrats failing to produce a budget, and include a link to a webpage, www.demsplanforamerica.com, that is–wait for it–a blank page.

Genius, right? Only except for that "if it's online, it's like DNA and Google is the black light" thing. NRSC was tracked, and even Andy Levy, who helps bring the funny to Fox News Channel’s overnight Red Eye, was quick to blast the NRSC via Twitter, “@NRSC What the hell is wrong with you? How do you not realize it’s unethical to make up fake tweets from people?”

This is the price of tangibility, and is it worth it? Definitely. People think they have a chance to express true sentiment (albeit, in 140 characters) and for their reward, a potential, personal response from the President. Do they follow? Again, definitely.       

That's PR these days. Be excited to get proactive, be prepared to be reactive and stay engaged to stay active. The President is doing that and realizes the risk, but he also understands the reward. He knows we are using hope and change to fill our gas tanks, but he's there ready to tweet with the best of them. 

Is social media worth the hassle? Only if you do it right. And if you do so, your ability to help others find their voice will be remarkable. So, find a hashtag, learn your followers and determine who has the best story to tell. Odds are, your client could be the next one covered by your local outlet all because you tweeted.

How's that for tangibility? Reach out and touch someone people.

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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