Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will be answering questions about housing during a live event with Zillow. Today, President Obama went directly to Instagram to ask the American people for questions about housing.
In some ways, this is old hat. The source for the questions, after all, is the same as it has been many times over the past five years: social media. As I commented on Tumblr, five years into this administration, it would be easy to let these sorts of new media milestones at the White House go unremarked. That would be a mistake.
The novelty in the event tomorrow lies in two factors:
1) The White House is encouraging people to ask the president questions using the #AskObamaHousing hashtag on Twitter, Zillow’s Facebook page or with their own “instavideo” on Instagram.
As for Tuesday at 5:50 PM ET, there were only around a dozen videos tagged with #AskObamaHousing on Instagram, so if you have a good one, the odds are (relatively) decent for it to be posed. (Twitter, by contrast, is much livelier.)
Such informal, atomized mobile videos are now a growing part of the landscape for government and technology, particularly in an age when the people formerly known as the audience have more options to tune in or tune out of broadcast programming. If the White House is looking to engage younger Americans in a conversation about, Instagram is an obvious place to turn.
Today, politicians and government officials need to go where the People are. Delivering effective answers to their questions regarding affordable housing in a tough economy will be harder, however, than filming a 15 second short.