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White House turns to social media outreach to boost State of the Union

The White House is using social media outreach to address plummeting viewership of the State of the Union address.

Social media has made its mark -- even on national traditions like the presidential State of the Union address. President Barack Obama -- who will deliver the State of the Union tomorrow night to an estimated 33 million viewers -- and his staff have several initiatives planned to drum up viewership of the address. The estimate for tomorrow night is a near 50% decline over the 52-plus million viewers of the address during former President Bill Clinton's two terms in office.

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The goal is to rouse the public and remind supporters of why they turned out for Obama in the first place, noted George Edwards, a political science professor at Texas A&M University.

In several moves to integrate new medium and to bring citizens closer to the process, the administration has devised several outreach efforts on social media. The administration, for example, has given staff access to the White House Instagram account to show behind the scenes pictures leading up to the address. President Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, also filmed a YouTube video, "Be a Part of the State of the Union," in advance of the address, and the White House blog has announced a "virtual road trip," in which President Obama will take a "tour" of the country via Google Hangouts to discuss the issues and policies laid out in the speech, and to join citizens in online conversation.

These efforts all make good on Obama's first term slogans, which focused on "The change we need" and reached out to younger voters to solidify victory. But with a 50% approval rating, the Obama administration may need to do more than post photos to Instagram to endear voters to his policies.

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