#SOTU Uses Social Platforms to Reach Broader Audiences

January 22, 2015
Joshua Baca, Senior Vice President, Client Relations

Last year 33.3 million American viewers tuned in for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. This year, that number dipped to 31.7 million viewers, the lowest turnout for the televised address since President Bill Clinton’s final State of the Union address in 2000.

While viewership on television is down, the reality is the White House is making a concerted effort to reach out to their audiences through other mediums. The State of the Union address is no longer just a television event. In fact, it’s continuing to evolve from what began as a written report the President submitted to Congress, and then progressed to a live broadcast on radio and eventually television, and now, it’s moving online.


While TV will forever remain relevant, it’s no longer the sole source for the State of the Union address and similar news and events. There are other ways for people to consume content, and just as televised news viewership has decreased over time, consumption is going up on digital platforms. This is a vital lesson, not only for the White House, but for any organization trying to send messaging to a target audience: You can no longer be constricted to one media outlet; know where your audience is consuming their media and adapt.

Organizations spend so much time developing and creating their messages. They need to spend just as much time thinking about where to cast their messaging to best reach their audiences.

Adapting to the times, the White House made an unprecedented move this year, posting the full speech on Medium for online public consumption ahead of the address, where it had over 400,000 views. Notably, this platform is largely used by Millennials, an important audience for Obama’s key proposal to make access to community college free and affordable. The White House also had 1.2 million viewers use their live stream of the address.


The event’s reach on major social media platforms was even greater. On Facebook, the event was referenced in 13.8 million posts, likes and comments on Tuesday alone, while 9.7 million people saw 2.6 million Tweets about the address.

Choosing the right platforms to reach an audience is critical, as is the way in which you communicate your messaging. The White House kept their website communications short, clear, and concise, and very heavy in graphics.

As consumption habits change, it’s critical to know where your audiences live and how they consume media. Take a lesson from this year’s State of the Union address.

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