It’s one thing to use social media as a candidate, another as a president

President Obama was lauded for his innovative use of the Internet and social media running up the 2008 Presidential Election. But it’s one thing to use social media to market yourself as a political candidate and another to use it to market yourself as the president of the United States:

Obama for America, the official campaign organization, recently rolled out AttackWatch.com. The website allows visitors to file reports when someone criticizes the president or his policies and purports to provide “the facts” to counter such “smears.” The site’s Twitter feed is attracting plenty of reports, but not necessarily the kind that campaign staff was expecting.

A user identified as Jon G. announced: “There’s a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob: @AttackWatch.” Another user identifying himself as Matt Cover tweeted, “Someone told me the stimulus didn’t keep unemployment below 8%. That’s not true, is it?”

Another concerned citizen reported, “I saw 6 ATM’s in an alley, killing a job. It looked like a hate crime!” The site’s Twitter page recently featured so many zingers aimed at the president that it was hard to find actual Obama supporters whining about his critics. One tweeter noted that “the GOP won seats in NY and NV . . . I suspect interference by sane people . . . check that out please.” Another said, “Hey kids, are mommy and daddy talking bad about Obama? Be sure to report them at #attackwatch.”

I’m not surprised that this is falling apart. Social media would be much better used for positive, affirmational messages. It would also be better used if it were about connecting the president and his staff to actual people.

As a social media manager, I cannot recommend this strategy.