Twitter will be in the spotlight today, along with President Obama, as the company and the White House present a “Twitter Town Hall,” a live webcast in which Obama will answer questions on the economy and jobs, posed to him by the public via Twitter.
It’s a significant nod to the continued rise of social media. But if the past is an accurate indication, the natural structure of these things tends to make them more of an alternative platform for speechmaking than a forum for rigorous discussion.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza uses Obama’s previous Facebook Town Hall as a point of reference, noting that the questions that were chosen were mostly open-ended queries that allowed for long responses. Cillizza writes that “the real reason to do an event like this one is that it affords the President nearly-unfettered message control with a young, national audience watching.”
Lauren Goode of WSJ Digital points out on Twitter that Obama’s average response in that Facebook Town Hall would have been 38 tweets long.
However, Twitter seems to be taking a more empirical approach that could result in a better mix of questions, depending on how they’re ultimately chosen and posed.
Here’s how the company describes what it will be doing …
• We’ve partnered with Mass Relevance to curate, visualize and integrate conversations for the event.
• Algorithms behind Twitter search will identify the Tweets that are most engaged with via Retweets, Favorites and Replies.
• A team of seasoned Twitter users with experience discussing the economy will help flag questions from their communities through retweets.
Our question: Is there a better way to do this? A better technology to use? If so, how would it work?