Five times Obama won the internet: From sitting 'Between Two Ferns' to betting big on BuzzFeed
Barack Obama’s two terms as President have seen the leader embrace digital like no other before him. From smashing Twitter records, to putting his comedic chops on display for all to see, the Democrat has a masterful command of content and a social footprint spanning over 100 million.
Yesterday (14 March) a video posted from the official White House Twitter account showed Obama dropping a freestyle rap with Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. Holding up cue cards with words like ‘POTUS’, ‘Congress’ and ‘Carbon Footprint’, an unperturbed Obama helped the rapper wax lyrical before asking “you think this is going viral?” when the mic dropped.
As the President showcases his viral velocity once again, The Drum looks back at his top five digital moments and how he’s used the internet to slingshot his presidential campaign to success.
1. Sitting down with Zach Galifianakis for Between Two Ferns
In 2014 Obama sat down with comedian turned actor Zach Galifianakis as part of his satirical Funny or Die talk show, Between Two Ferns.
Looking to promote his Affordable Care Act ahead of its sign up deadline, the POTUS was the first sitting President to star in an online comedy video.
The hilariously awkward exchange seen Galifianakis give Obama a roasting over the ill-fated launch of his healthcare.gov website. The clip clocked up 10m views in its first day alone, with 70 per cent of viewers sticking around the watch the full interview.
2. Teaming up with BuzzFeed for ‘Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About’
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Obama enlisted BuzzFeed’s video team last year to help him appeal to the hard to reach millennial generation and spread the word about the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The result was ‘Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About’, which featured the President using a selfie stick, making funny faces in the mirror and sketching some pictures of his ‘crush’ Michelle.
The publisher debuted the film on Facebook, and it’s since racked up over 61m views, with 1.6m of those landing in the first hour.
3. Becoming the most popular person on Twitter
Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
Back in May 2015 the US President set a new Twitter world record, amassing one million followers within just five hours.
Despite being six years late to the Twitter party, he opened his own account under the handle @POTUS and now has 6.71 million followers on the platform.
His record was tapped by Caitlyn Jenner under a month later
4. Taking on his haters in Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Mean Tweets’ slot
Following a special interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the commander in chief took part in the show’s ‘Mean Tweets’ segment, which sees celebrities read out nasty messages about themselves and respond to online trolls.
Set to REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ the Obama edition has been watched over 40m times.
5. Taking part in a Reddit AMA
All the way back in 2012, the President took part in one of Reddit’s hugely popular ‘Ask Me Anything’ threads to help him secure a second term.
Swarmed Reddit severs struggled to deal with the page views as he answered questions on democracy and beer.
Within 24 hours, 5.2 million people had read the Reddit interview. It was the most-trafficked post in the forum’s history.
Obama took to the stage at SXSW earlier this week to talk about the intersection between the government and tech.