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Is Twitter the New Fireside Chat?

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For all the things that Barack Obama did well in this campaign, perhaps the most impressive was his use of social media technologies. There was the Obama social network, the constant stream of videos, emails targeted by state, and, perhaps most surprising, the Obama Twitter stream. (For a nice overview of the topic, check out Fast Company's story.)

You can see how popular the Obama Twitter account is here: 117,000 followers, which makes him tops in the world. (Kevin Rose, the subject of this month's cover story is number 2). Now that Obama is President-Elect, what happens to the messages that were going out to those 117,000 people?

One idea—which I proposed this morning on Inc.'s Twitter page—is to use this massive social media infrastructure to communicate directly with the American people. How many people actually listen to the President Bush's weekly radio address? What if instead of a radio broadcast, you could sign-up to receive a once-weekly email note, a YouTube video, or a Twitter message? What if, in addition to those old-school press briefings, which today seem to exist solely for the benefit of Daily Show writers, a presidential spokesperson would answer questions from the public via Twitter and in real time?

Seventy-five years ago, FDR created a new model for communicating with a nation grappling with an economic crisis, through so-called fireside chats. Now, as we enter the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, get ready for new innovation in presidential propaganda: the fireside tweet.

Last updated: Nov 5, 2008




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