The White House deployed a PR campaign this week
to pressure congressional Republicans to accept a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. As part of the campaign, the president urged supporters to call, email, and tweet their congressperson.
The campaign also included a social media element
, namely a hashtag, which caused partisan drama over the fiscal cliff to spill on to Twitter.
The drama began on Wednesday when the White House issued this tweet:
The hashtag #My2K refers to the $2,200 in extra taxes a family of four will pay next year if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach accord on automatic tax increases slated for early 2013. (Fiscal cliff refers to tax hikes plus automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect.) The president wants to maintain Bush era tax cuts for middle income earners, while letting them expire on incomes above $250,000.
Tens of thousands of people mentioned the hashtag, many of whom supported the president. Others used the tweet as a way to criticize his policies.
Among the detractors was the conservative Heritage Foundation, which “hijacked” the conversation. It ran promoted tweets so that searches for #My2K on Twitter showed a link to an article on the Heritage Foundation’s blog, “4 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Wrong on Tax Hikes!
In the wake of this incident, it appears President Obama and corporate CEOs can find common ground on at least one thing—hijacked Twitter conservations. McDonald’s, for example, saw two of its promoted hashtags overrun by snarky commenters
in January. In September, Newsweek
’s attempt at sparking conversation about #MuslimRage became an object of derision
Ultimately, the #My2K conversation underscores a deeper social media challenge for the president: What to do with all of his followers online. In addition to blasting the the fiscal cliff tweet to @WhiteHouse followers, Obama's social media team sent the same message to followers of @BarackObama and @Obama2012.
Advertising Age writes
“The campaign demonstrates the White House's intent to try to harness the social-media followers the president has accrued to back him on policy now that there are no offices left to run for. (@BarackObama has upwards of 23 million followers.) It also appears that the Obama campaign is casting about for ways to give the digital architecture it's built for organizing supporters a new life.”
Of course, as many social media professionals can attest, determining how to harness 23 million Twitter followers is not a terrible problem to endure.