Social news site Reddit’s page views burgeoned to 3.4 billion during August, as leading politicians looked to exploit the power of the internet to communicate their key messages.
Page views rose by 8.8 percent on July’s total of 3.1 billion and unique visitors also grew by 8.6 percent (from July’s 29.5 billion to 42.9 million in August), which possibly accounts for President Obama’s recent appearance on the popular social news site.
The President may have been partly responsible for the surge in traffic. His “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Q&A session on August 29th sucked in 1.6 million unique visitors on the night and a further 1.2 million the following Thursday.
Reaching voters just went Reddit
While President Obama is by far the most prestigious guest to have volunteered for a Reddit AMA (predecessors include actor Woody Harrelson and the redoubtable Larry King), his decision to take part may reflect the growing importance placed by leading politicians on harnessing the power of social media.
Any aspiring social media manager, community manager or content manager may want to take note of this trend, as the communion between technology and ideology is becoming increasingly influential in changing the political landscape. As the “AllThingsD” journalist Eric Johnson observes, President Obama’s tactic for reaching voters through media like Reddit would have been inconceivable a few years back. Twenty years ago the White House didn’t even have a website, but four years later just about all serious politicians were dabbling in the arts of building a web presence. Today, not having a social media voice is tantamount to not having a voice at all for Presidential hopefuls and senior politicians alike.
Social media as defenders of internet freedom?
But there’s also evidence that Reddit is using its soaring popularity to exercise a degree of clout with politicians whose instinct is to regulate the net. This often boils down to code for clamping down on freedom of expression. Reddit’s founder, Alexis Ohanian – a passionate defender of an internet free of Government interference – is bringing politicians from both main parties together to unite in defense of this principle. As he put it in an interview, “Republicans want to keep the open internet safe from big government. Democrats want to keep it safe from big corporations. I say we agree to agree and move ahead.”