CXO

How Obama will pass his Twitter account to next president, and what you can learn from it

The White House recently came up with a transition strategy for presidential social media accounts and other properties. Here's what your business can learn.

potusphone.jpg
Image: White House

As President Obama prepares to leave the Oval Office in 2017, part of his transition strategy will include handing over the ownership of social media accounts and certain websites. On Monday, the White House released a blog post detailing that digital transition, and there are a few best practices that enterprises can glean from it.

As noted by the post, Obama is the first president to leverage various social media platforms, securing the handle @POTUS on Twitter, and engaging with online video through Facebook and YouTube as well. These accounts, as well as new platforms like We The People that debuted during Obama's tenure, are just some of the assets that will come under the new president when he or she takes office.

"This digital infrastructure is an asset not just for the next president but for all future presidents to build off of. The archive belongs to the American people," the post said.

SEE: Social media policy template (Tech Pro Research)

For starters, all of the content that was created by President Obama on various digital platforms will be preserved in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). According to its website, the NARA keeps records of "documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government." So, Obama's tweets will be in the same place as official notes and letters written by former presidents.

The most public aspect of Obama's online presence is the Twitter handle @POTUS, which he first tweeted from in 2015. Whoever the next president is will have access to that handle on January 20, 2017, the post said. The account will keep its 11 million or so followers, but the tweets will be wiped from the timeline.

"@POTUS44, a newly created handle maintained by NARA, will contain all of President Obama's tweets and will be accessible to the public on Twitter as an archive of President Obama's use of the account," the post said.

President Obama's tweets, as well as tweets from @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, and @VP will be archived at NARA, where citizens can access them in a similar way they would access other records. The new president will also gain access to the official White House Instagram and Facebook accounts, with the Obama administration's content moved to Instagram.com/ObamaWhiteHouse and Facebook.com/ObamaWhiteHouse, respectively.

There are nearly half a million petitions on the We The People website, an online platform where citizens can create and sign petitions. All of the petitions and responses that occurred during Obama's tenure will be archived with the NARA, while the code for the website is open source, the blog post said.

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The traditional WhiteHouse.gov website will be redesigned to accomodate the new president, while the current iteration will be accesible at ObamaWhiteHouse.gov. According to the post, all photo and video content created during Obama's presidency will also go to NARA and be available there, as well as at platforms like Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo, but under a different username.

Additionally, the White House is planning on making its content available for download and inviting citizens to come up with new ways to archive it and make it useful, the post said.

"The White House will make our social media data available early to people who are interested in building something for the public," The blog post said.

This approach will also be taken with other social media and blog accounts. In an enterprise organization, executives should consider a transition plan for key accounts and assets that are managed by a CEO, for example, to prepare for a time when he or she would retire or leave the company.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. As President Obama exits the White House in 2017, a big part of his transition will include transferring ownership of various digital properties and social media accounts.
  2. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will archive and manage much of the content that was created during Obama's administration, preserving it for citizens to access.
  3. Other organizations should consider their own transition plans, especially dealing with accounts and platforms relative to a specific title, brand, or team.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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