The annual State of the Union address is one of those rare opportunities in which the president of the United States knows that millions of Americans are watching his speech. And in today's world, those viewers are reacting in real time, on social media, to what the president says.
So what was the reaction to President Barack Obama's address Tuesday?
A tech company, in Washington D.C., monitored what Americans were saying on social media -- second by second.
Social media have changed the way things work in Washington, especially at the White House.
“We’ve noticed some of the key quotes from the president are under 140 characters. So they’ve actually written the speech to make it easier to share on social media,” said Anthony shop, co-founder of Social Driver.
During Obama’s seven years in office, his administration has been very active on social media. Just this week, the White House joined Snapchat. And hours before the State of the Union speech, Obama went live on Facebook to invite his followers to watch his speech.
Politicians now use social media to circumvent conventional media and talk directly with people.
Social Driver, a social media strategy agency in Washington, was watching closely how viewers reacted to Obama’s final State of the Union speech.
“Social media gives us the ability to listen to people all over the country, and all over the world really, in ways that would’ve been unimaginable a few short years ago," said Shop. "And now it’s possible to listen to what everybody is saying, to tap into those conversations and to learn from them.”
And the reactions were nothing if not unpredictable. Health care, normally a divisive issue, brought people together when the president jokingly acknowledged Republicans and Democrats will never agree.
Also, surprisingly, Obama’s proposal to end cancer was not well-received.
“You would think something like cancer, ‘o.k. we’re going to cure cancer,’ everyone can really rally behind that. But in reality it was one of the most split things he said and I would assume it is not something that they expected,” said Emily Rasowsky, of Social Driver.
Yet what caught the most attention on social media might seem astonishing to many.
“The two key moments that really were surprising, that got a lot of traction, were Michelle Obama and what she was wearing... and the second really surprising conversation on social media tonight was the livestream and not the fact that they had it but how they laid it out," Rasowsky said. "Right from the go the people were talking about how it kind of looked like a PowerPoint presentation.”
But Social Driver does not do this for fun. They share their findings with clients and help them tailor their messages on social media platforms. Proving, once more, how social media have changed the game.