White House ‘Twitter Office Hours’ boosts followers

Dylan Stableford

Last week, the White House began holding "Twitter Office Hours"--daily, hourlong Twitter chats with senior administration officials.

Users are asked to submit questions to various White House staffers via a #WHChat hashtag.

Since launching the initiative on July 26--the height of the debt deal talks--the official White House Twitter feed has picked up more than 22,000 new followers, or roughly 3,100 per day. Those are no Charlie Sheen numbers, but still pretty impressive.

What's more notable is the amount of mentions on Twitter the White House is seeing. Before launching its office hours, the @WhiteHouse handle was getting about 900 mentions on Twitter per day. Now, that number is 5,000.

The Obama administration has made a concerted effort this year to ramp up its social media presence--and outreach--beyond @BarackObama.

Last month, Twitter hosted a "Town Hall" with President Obama focused on the economy and jobs (hashtag #AskObama for that one). And the Obama campaign is already gearing up for 2012 with YouTube videos, which have sparked controversy for being filmed at the White House.

And last week, Obama encouraged his 9 million-plus Twitter followers to tweet at Republican members of Congress and ask them to compromise on raising the debt limit. On Sunday, after the debt deal was reached, the president lauded Americans for answering his social media call.

"Most of all, I want to thank the American people," Obama said. "It's been your voice, your letters, your emails, your tweets, your phone calls that have compelled Washington to act in the final days. And the American people's voice is a very, very powerful thing."