Get Ready For a Most Engaging State of the Union

The White House builds a network for citizens to engage via social media during the president's annual speech.

Whether it’s sports or politics, social media and the internet have transformed how viewers watch and engage during televised events.

Tonight’s State of the Union, which sets the stage and pace for the President Obama’s second-term agenda, will be the most social SOTU to date.  Viewers will be watching and simultaneously engaging in “instant political debate during and after,” writes Doug Bernard of Voice of America.

The end-game is to empower young folks to become active participants in our democracy, and not just on Election Day.

The White House has gone out of its way to facilitate a “live debate” setup at the 2013 State of the Union. Here are some of the ways viewers will be able to interact:

Everyone can watch: The White House has ensured that no one has an excuse not to watch. Viewers can stream the speech live on Bing alongside a Twitter stream or straight from the White House mobile app for iOS and Android devices. You can watch it at, which, according to Search Engine Journal, will also present graphics, data, and charts to complement Obama’s remarks.

Citizen response: Tonight, we can all tweet the president. Yes, we can. The White House has set up software known as Citizen Response, in which you can let the president know how a part of the address affects you and then share your comment with your friends. According to Nextgov, the Citizen Response software is powered by social media, giving citizens an opportunity to be a part of the conversation in real time. “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” Sarah Lauren Stern of the group League of Young Voters told Bernard. “The end-game is to empower young folks to become active participants in our democracy, and not just on Election Day.”

Town Hall meeting: And it doesn’t stop with the SOTU address either. According to the White House blog, Obama will host a town-hall-style Google+ “hangout” on Thursday to answer Americans’ questions on the policies he lays out in the speech.

How will you participate in Obama’s fifth State of the Union address?

(Chuck Kennedy/Executive Office of the President of the United States)

Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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