The State of the Union Is ... Viral?

The star of the State of the Union has been announced, and it is not U.S. President Barack Obama.
Source: White House Instagram

The star of the State of the Union message has been announced, and it is not U.S. President Barack Obama. It's his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett.

I know this because she commandeered the White House Instagram account yesterday to show how the SOTU sausage is made. Here's a photo of her. Hi, Valerie.

Source: White House Instagram

Or maybe it's his speechwriter since last year, Cody Kennan, who took over the Instagram account last night. Or Laura, another speechwriter, making a phone call here.

If you don't follow the White House on the photo-sharing social app, you may have gotten the e-mail blast this morning: "Here's What I Did Today" -- or seen the more than 1,100 mentions of #insideSOTU on Twitter. The team is really excited about those filtered pics. Transparency! Here's a blurry draft of the speech:

Source: White House Instagram

Two things stand out about these Instagram takeovers and the social-media promotion of the speech:

First, Obama is desperate to appeal to young people. His standing with millennials has been slipping. In recent polls, his approval among those under 30 has been only slightly higher than the national average, showing a drop in support from 2008 and 2012. A survey by Harvard University's Institute of Politics found that a majority of Americans under the age of 25 would favor removing him from office.

Why the lost love? Much of it can be attributed to discontent about Obamacare, high student loan debt and the National Security Agency's domestic spying. (But, really, people can find a way to blame Obama for just about everything.) Instagram, which has about 150 million active users, is popular with this age group -- will they reconnect?

Second, where's the POTUS in this process? For a president who has gotten slammed by critics for teleprompter use, why the focus on the team of advisers who are writing the speech? That last message the White House should be sending to young people is that he has turned his back on them:

Source: White House Twitter

(Kirsten Salyer is social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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    Kirsten Salyer

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