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Advantage Obama

The US election promises to be a hard-fought contest, with social media and online content a major battleground

Barack Obama on Reddit

If we were in any doubt that election time in America was slowly creeping up on us (and, let’s face it, with the length of campaigns these days, when isn’t it?) Barack Obama has taken part in a live AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) on social bookmarking site Reddit.

The tech-savvy president has been unwavering in his embracing of social media and the like, but a live, uncensored Q&A is a big, brave step for even the boldest politician.

Predictably, Reddit crashed under the weight of traffic several times during the AMA, but the President still managed to answer multiple hard-hitting questions, from queries about his first-term policies to demands for the famous White House homebrew beer recipe, which Mr Obama graciously shared with the Reddit community.

While opinion polls show Obama is heavily favoured by younger voters, his appearance on a site like Reddit was a strategic move to include those Americans who are often overlooked by traditional ‘family-facing’ campaigns.

The content battleground

Mitt Romney is perceived as being less social media-savvy

What is interesting is that Obama’s Reddit AMA wasn’t exactly a trailblazer. In fact, his Republican opponent Mitt Romney beat him to the punch earlier this year when he hosted an AMA on Yahoo! But where Reddit is seen as being on the up (hence its popularity with young, trendy, budding leaders and millionaires, Yahoo! Answers day in the sun has long been and gone.

Which perhaps speaks volumes about the two candidates’ grasp of what is needed to win what will be a close election. On the one hand Obama’s choices reinforces the impression that he is a man at home in the world of social media and online content. On the other, Romney seems uncertain in the online arena, as if he expects another stuff-up.

It’s advantage Obama so far, but there remains a long way to go…


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