Skip links


Inauguration 2013: A Social Media Explosion

Posted At: January 25, 2013 1:40 P.M.
by Casey B. Rogers

While a million people flocked to the nation’s capital on Monday to watch the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, even more were virtually present from across the country and around the world. Although there was a lower estimated attendance this year, there was a dramatic increase within the realm of social media channels.

As the popularity of social media rises, it is no surprise that this inauguration, the 57th Presidential Inauguration, gained more digital attention than any other in the history of the United States. By 10 a.m., Twitter stated there had already been more tweets in the previous 90 minutes than during the 90-minute ceremony in 2009.

On Jan. 18, in preparation for this year’s inauguration, The Wall Street Journal published “Inauguration ’13 Social Media Guide,”  which included numerous ways to follow and participate in this year’s inauguration. The WSJ’s blog featured links to the inaugural committee’s official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as information about the official Twitter hashtag.

Hashtags such as #inaur2013, #inauguration2013 and #inauguration were used during the festivities with an estimated 1.1 million inauguration-related tweets. At its highest peak, an astounding 27,975 inaugural tweets per minute were reached. Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Foursquare were also used throughout the day.

Fousquare partnered with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to recognize citizens who participated in the National Day of Service. These citizens were awarded an official Inaugural Service badge, which was earned after checking in at any of the event locations.

For this inauguration, an official Inaugural 2013 App was also created to stream the ceremonies live, providing viewers with a firsthand attendee experience. The app also provided attendees with important details such as maps, schedules and relevant links.

Concern of network congestion among carriers was thought to be a potential problem due to a network overload in 2009. The networks were said to have built out for more capacity, but people were also encouraged to send text messages rather than calling and to upload photos using a Wi-Fi connection.

The president’s own family were seen celebrating and taking photos on the big day, which most assume were probably for use on Instagram. Both of President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, were documented taking ‘selfies’ and pictures of the first lady during the day of events.

Infographic courtesy of amccartney

Many ask, why the social media explosion with this inauguration? In my opinion, it comes down to one thing — sheer popularity. Simply put, more Americans are using social media outlets. In a PBS infographic comparing how Obama’s social media stats have changed over the past four years, anyone can easily see the growing media popularity. It is no wonder this inauguration saw a media explosion like none other in the past.


Return to top of page