Obama’s “Big Block of Cheese” Day #Social Spin

U.S. Democrats and Republicans may disagree about President Obama’s politics, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: when it comes to today’s social Web, the Obama administration totally gets it. Let’s pick apart the social media campaign the White House has planned for this week and see what we can learn… 

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Last Friday, the White House announced a “Big Block of Cheese Day” to be held on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

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The original idea came from President Andrew Jackson, who in 1837 harnessed 24 horses to haul a 1,400-pound block of cheese into the main foyer of the White House then threw open the doors to the public. The stunt made it possible for ordinary folks to bring their concerns to the attention of elected officials — while munching on a tasty cheese snack.

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The Obama administration plans to harness the incredible power of the social Web to create a social media event of epic proportions.

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Viral attraction

The “Big Block of Cheese Day” was announced to email subscribers and posted on the White House blog. The intriguing name was intended to arouse enough curiosity to inspire readers to spread the word.

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But just to make sure, they tapped into pop culture, inviting stars of the now- defunct but still-popular TV show “West Wing” to tape a video promo. Fans will remember an episode in which the fictional Bartlett White House held a “Big Block of Cheese Day” to let slightly kooky advocates pitch their unlikely causes. White House staffers were first irritated, then amused, and finally captivated by the passion of the true believers who showed up.

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Now imagine this concept played out not within the walls of a government building but on social media for a potential audience of billions of people.

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Social engagement

And not just as witnesses, but as participants. White House staffers will spend the day interacting with real people on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Google+ Hangouts.

In fact, you can start asking questions now using hashtag #AsktheWH. Who knows? Your question may help energize the public debate and influence the legislative agenda.

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Real-world goals

Governance is the goal, but make no mistake: there’s a deeper agenda at work here too.

On Tuesday evening President Obama will present his State of the Union address to both houses of Congress — an event that rivals an inaugural address as a way to promote ideas using the “bully pulpit” of the presidency.

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But the very moment the speech ends, the opposition will begin clamoring to be heard. Nothing wrong with that. Americans love a vigorous debate. And the President will work just as hard to keep control of the message.

And therein lies the true motive — spin control.

Will the opposition be able to steal the spotlight? Or will “Big Block of Cheese Day” capture the attention of the American public on behalf of the President?

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Smart move

The way a message is presented can be as newsworthy as the message itself. “The medium is the message,” as Marshall McLuhan famously observed. It’s a safe bet that on Wednesday, the viral aspect of the “Big Block of Cheese Day” will receive at least as much attention as the content of the speech.

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Politics aside, viral marketing is a great way to spread your message. GetResponse went viral with a seriously crazy online design contest, and has the award to prove it.

The social Web is open to anyone who will use it.

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As a marketer, how could you design something so special that it captures the imagination of your audience? And goes viral? And gets your audience involved? And accomplishes marketing goals for your business?

Let’s hear about it on the social Web!