#SOTU Social Media Guide – Tonight’s Politics on Twitter

Already the day’s highest trending topic, tonight’s State of the Union (#SOTU) will undoubtedly be making waves on social media for the next few days – starting with play-by-play commentary from the White House, politicians, the media, and the public-at-large on social media all evening.


A quick primer for tonight’s events on social media:

  • Once again the White House will be streaming an enhanced version of the speech that features graphics, data and stats that highlight the issues the President is discussing on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU. They will also live stream that broadcast through the White House Live App on FacebookYouTube and their Google+ page.
  • During a special “Open for Questions” event following the speech, a panel of senior advisors will be answering questions about the President's address submitted by citizens via Twitter (using the hashtag's #WHChat & #SOTU), Google+ and Facebook, as well as from the live in-person audience of White House Social participants. (More details on the White House’s plans can be found here).
  • Expect some heavy traffic on the White House’s official Twitter hashtag for the conversation about guns and violence, #NowIstheTime. (This hashtag seems to have gained more traction than the much derided #My2k, about the fiscal cliff).


And it’s not all just about POTUS this evening. Since 1966 the major opposition party has promoted an official response to the president’s speech (that year it was the influential Sen. Dirksen and future president Gerald Ford, at the time a House member, responding to President Johnson).


Rubio Twitter - Social Media AnalysisThis responsibility is both a coveted and dreaded speaking role, and this year the challenge goes to first-term Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Rubio is in almost exactly the same position as Governor Bobby Jindal was four years ago when he rebutted the President’s speech – a prominent politician, son of immigrants, hailing from the South, and sold as “the savior” of the Republican Party.


This speech may well be Rubio’s make-or-break moment, whether he thinks of himself as a savior of the party or not.  Most argue that 2009 was a definite stumbling point in Jindal’s trajectory into the national spotlight, and there will be plenty of Wednesday morning quarterbacking on his 2016 prospects.


Sen. Rubio is definitely influential on social media (see our analysis here) and has been a rising star online for some time.  Since it was revealed on February 6th that Rubio would fill the role, he is gaining even more traction and visibility online with over 14,000 mentions of him on Twitter the following day and continued growth in followers.

Expect Rubio’s speech to be hotly debated online – and its implications for Rubio as a viable candidate in 2016. You can see an early preview of his speech here.


Some other social media activities from the GOP this evening:

  • For the third year in a row, the Tea Party is organizing an official response as well, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will be stepping to the podium – another rising star with his own aspirations for Washington.  Expect increased traffic for the hastags #TeaParty and #tcot along with his comments.
  • Republican leaders will also be taking questions throughout the speech and afterwards with the #SOTUGOP hashtag. 
  • Groups like RNC Research (@RNCResearch) will be live fact checking #SOTU this evening on Twitter – queue a handful of instant controversies over phrasing… 
  • In a bit of planned political name calling, Rep. Steve Stockman is planning a #YouLie hashtag fact check campaign.
  • The GOP has even set up an official facts and charts page on their site - www.GOP.gov/SOTU - that will rebuff the White House’s own attempts at data-driven live coverage. 
  • Expect the GOP to almost entirely ignore the #NowIstheTime hashtag on Twitter, or find a way to attempt and hijack it.  They have already embraced their own hashtag for the night, #NotSerious, to question Obama’s commitment to real reforms.


Whether you engage with the State of the Union through social media or not, expect #SOTU to be a trending topic for the next couple of days as the public debate plays out online. 

We of course will be offering some thoughts during the speech as well, and you can always see our commentary on Twitter (@OhMyGov).

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OhMyGov specializes in providing media analytics, business intelligence and performance management consulting services to government agencies, politicians, political campaigns, and private organizations that lobby or work with government. Learn more here.

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