Google+ Hangouts to Host Virtual Road Trip With President Obama

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-01-29
virtual roadtrip

Google+ Hangouts to Host Virtual Road Trip With President Obama

President Barack Obama will use Google+ Hangouts Jan. 31 to communicate with people from across the United States about his plans for the nation as he visits several cities and towns following his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The event, which is being called the "first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip," will be a sort of virtual whistle-stop tour where the president will "hop into Google+ Hangouts with people from across the United States to answer their questions and hear their thoughts about the topics he addressed in his speech," Ramya Raghavan, the head of the Google+ Politics and Causes unit,  wrote in a posting on the Google Official Blog. The event will begin at 2 p.m. ET.

People who would like to ask the president a question during the Google+ Hangouts event must record a 60-second video with their name, location, a bit about themselves and the question they'd like to ask to participate, wrote Raghavan. "Then post it on YouTube or Google+ and share it publicly with the hashtag #AskObama2014," where it will then be made available for possible selection during the event.

The State of the Union address was broadcast on network television and radio, as well as on YouTube where it remains available for viewing on The White House YouTube channel.

Obama made his first stop on his road trip in Lanham, Md., this morning, where he began highlighting some of the themes from his State of the Union message, according to a story by Reuters. In his appearance there, he again called on the government to work to narrow the gap between the rich and poor by urging Congress to raise the minimum wage for millions of low-income Americans.

This is not the first time that the president has used Google+ Hangouts to communicate with Americans across the nation. In February 2013, Obama used the online forum for the second time in his presidency as he answered questions from the American people in a virtual "Fireside Hangout" two days after a State of the Union address, according to an eWEEK report. Obama's earlier "Fireside Hangout" was set up in the tradition of presidential "fireside chats" of the past and featured questions that were sent in ahead of time by citizens, as well as questions that were raised by several participants inside the Hangout.

Obama's first Google+ hangouts session was conducted in January 2012, six days after his State of the Union address that year.

The president has been a heavy adopter of social media during his presidency.

In November 2012, a Tweet sent out by his campaign staff after he won re-election quickly became the most-retweeted Twitter contribution in history, far-outranking the old record previously set by Justin Bieber, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The quick three-word Tweet sent by a staffer to Obama's 22.7 million Twitter followers at the time said simply: "Four more years."

That simple message was then retweeted like wildfire from person to person, with more than 226,000 retweets in the first 22 minutes after it was posted, which breaks the all-time retweet record previously held by teenage singer Justin Bieber. By noon EDT Nov. 7, the Obama tweet had been retweeted more than 669,000 times, and the total was still climbing. That could certainly allow him to now add the title of "Tweeter in chief" to his resume.

Google+ Hangouts to Host Virtual Road Trip With President Obama

A story by MediaBistro was one of the first to crown the Obama message as the most retweeted message in Twitter's history. The Tweet also included a tender photograph of the president hugging his wife, Michelle.

One minute before that now-famous staff Tweet, Obama himself had also sent a Tweet to his followers, which was identified by his social media signature, "bo," that designates tweets that are made personally by the president. "We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. –bo."

The tweets from Obama and his campaign staff were among more than 31 million election-related tweets made on election night 2012, which made it "the most tweeted-about event in U.S. political history," according to Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz in a report by Reuters. "Between 6 p.m. and midnight EST, there were more than 23 million tweets," which broke the previous record of 10 million set during the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, according to Reuters.

In October 2012, Google created capabilities for voters to hold their own Google Hangouts debate-watching parties for their friends to watch the debates during the presidential election, which featured Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney.

Google+ Hangouts was launched in June 2011, originally as a video chat app that allowed up to 10 users to communicate together in an online session. Later Hangouts was expanded with a wide range of new features, as Google sought to promote the services.

Rocket Fuel