During her two terms as First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama’s hopped aboard virtually every hip, new social media platform to engage and interact with young people. In promoting her four separate initiatives, which include Let’s Move!, Joining Forces, Reach Higher, and Let Girls Learn, Obama's made use of everything from Vine, Snapchat, and Periscope, to Instagram and Twitter.
Sitting down with Obama and her communications director, Caroline Adler, to discuss FLOTUS's social media savvy ways, The Verge describes Mrs. Obama as “a politician who’s managed to remain cool”—and, we couldn’t agree more.
“If you think about the campaign, this presidency, we were always striving to be cutting edge,” Obama said. “Nowadays, this generation isn’t watching the nightly news [or] reading newspapers… they are on their phones. So, we had to think of fun and creative ways to connect with them.” (Who could forget her "Turnip for What" Vine clip riffing off of Lil Jon and DJ Snake’s 2013 hit, "Turn Down for What"?)
Obama said she specifically wanted to promote her initiatives via social media because it allowed her different audiences to know her more directly. In sharing videos and personal photos, the First Lady’s followers got to interact face-to-face with her on a more personal level.
“They can see that I am kind of silly sometimes, that I care, they can feel the passion,” Obama told The Verge. “They don’t have to have it filtered through a source and young people, in particular, like that.”
With each initiative, whether it be Let Girls Learn, in which Obama works to help girls around the world stay in school, or Joining Forces, a nationwide effort to increase support for service members and veterans, Adler considered each of the initiative's respective audiences and tweaked the mode of communication accordingly. “Each of the First Lady’s four initiatives each have a goal and they have a different audience,” Adler said. “And, so we then wonder which platform will serve us best.”
From there, the First Lady and her team crafted fun and creative ways to engage young people and get them moving in the right direction, whether it be school, health, or work-related. “We want to do things that are actually going to change people’s lives, and the only way to do that is to constantly make those shifts so that the message is getting directly to the people we’re trying to reach,” Obama said.