Biden: Did you get my text? The president gives his community “telephone number”.
White House aides say texts from Biden’s account will reflect a collaboration between staff and the president, though aides expect Biden to pen messages himself.
The president’s digital team has been experimenting with ways to reach voters, especially younger ones, on social media platforms. The White House does not have a TikTok account, although Biden has filmed videos with the Jonas Brothers and others who have uploaded the collabs to their own TikTok accounts. The president also sat for busy interviews on Shade Room, a pop culture site aimed at young black audiences, and White House Covid adviser Anthony Fauci hosted Instagram Live sessions.
“All of these things are great, but social media audiences are disappearing. You are beholden to the algorithm. And even emails can be unreliable in terms of open rates and recipients,” said Rob Flaherty, White House director of digital strategy. “SMS is a really reliable tool to reach people directly and quickly. Text messages like to say that the open rate is 100%. »
Political campaigns often use text messages to spread information — including Biden through the Democratic National Committee — but aides say this is the first time in nearly a decade that the White House is “opening a new channel of communication to / from the audience”.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was a prolific Twitter user until he was permanently kicked off the platform following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. But White House aides have often remarked that « Twitter isn’t real life, » a reference to the platform that isn’t as widely embraced in America’s heartland as it is by politicians in Washington. and the media that cover them.
Launched in 2019, Community allows individuals and businesses, or their brands, to text fans and supporters in groups or one-on-one. Users can choose to receive messages and promotions, while the people they follow – especially politicians – use the platform to mobilize supporters and voters.
Aides say the White House can use the platform to advertise trips and ask for feedback on current proposals or plan a preview.
« If we’re going to Ohio, we can text all Ohio subscribers and say, ‘Hey, come to our event,’ or ‘I’m going to be in town,' » Flaherty said. “Additionally, we can text people based on their interests. This allows us to have a direct dialogue with people.
There’s also the added benefit of being able to control the message and bypass traditional news sources, he said.
Biden is the latest politician to use the platform. Former President Barack Obama used Community in 2020 and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams joined Community last year to work with the voting rights group she started mobilizing voters and to promote initiatives.
“You could ask the president to do a town hall with the tool. Answering questions and that sort of thing. We talked about « should we let Community choose their tie someday? » “Said Flaherty. « We’re sort of experimenting here. »