The Republican National Convention is in full swing and I keep expecting to see Perez Hilton on the floor interviewing the speakers. But while the world’s eyes were focused on Florida yesterday, the POTUS himself did what he does best and went straight to the people via the Web—Reddit, specifically. On Wednesday evening, Barack Obama held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit (with the above posted identity verification photo to prove that he was chatting from a small, depressing room), resulting in soaring page views that crashed the site.
Reddit general manager Erik Martin told the Washington Post Thursday that the presidential AMA drew 3.8 million page views just on the first page of the Q&A session, as well as more than 23,600 comments (the comments continued to churn in for hours after the AMA session was over). To put that into perspective, Woody Harrelson and former NFL player Terry Crews both sat for recent AMAs and received just north of 9,000 comments each (the Woody Harrelson AMA was a resounding disappointment, however, as it became abundantly clear that Harrelson’s answers were being written by a PR person).
The Obama AMA received some 219,500 up votes and 215,900 down votes, but Martin says that those numbers don’t actually reflect how users voted as Reddit has an anti-spam algorithm that affects how the numbers are displayed when there’s a large number of votes.
Martin told the Washington Post that really popular Ask Me Anything Q&A sessions might get one million page views over the course of a month. In December, Reddit saw two billion page views and 34.8 million unique visitors for the month.
Obama answered ten questions over the course of the 30 minute session, addressing everything from money in politics and his decision to surge our forces in Afghanistan, to his favorite basketball player and the recipe for the White House beer. He also discussed the importance of Internet freedom as well as how he plans to help small businesses in 2013.
“Going forward, I want to keep taxes low for the 98 percent of small businesses that have $250,000 or less in income, make it easier for small business to access financing, and expand their opportunities to export. And we will be implementing the Jobs Act bill that I signed that will make it easier for startups to access crowd-funding and reduce their tax burden at the start-up stage.”
While he didn’t say anything that he hasn’t already said (except, maybe, for that thing on the White House beer), the conversation itself was a poetic reminder of the stark differences between the Obama and Romney campaigns. While Romney has been making more of an effort to boost his social media savvy in recent months, the fact remains that his campaign simply isn’t as dependent on grassroots organization as Obama’s is. Only 15% of Romney’s donors gave less than $200 (that’s two weeks’ worth of groceries—I’ll be damned if I give that to a political campaign), compared with nearly half (40%) of Obama’s donors.
So it makes sense that while Mitt Romney is taking his spot in the limelight at the RNC, Obama would make a Reddit account and verify his identity with his Twitter status. He even closed the conversation by acknowledging his own meme: “By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole Reddit experience—NOT BAD!”—referring to his meme, Not Bad Obama.
Image source: imgur.com