US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has joined Google's social network Google+, stepping up his internet presence in preparation for the 2012 presidential election.
Obama's verified Google+ page was created yesterday evening and has already garnered over 4,500 +1s, the equivalent of Facebook Likes, in this short space of time, with the number steadily rising as more people become aware of the account.
The opening message reads, "Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page. We're still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you'd like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign."
Obama was elected in 2008 after an extensive political campaign that heavily involved the internet, particularly Youtube, which saw millions of hours of video watched by people across the world, saving the Obama campaign many millions of dollars on TV advertising costs while also taking advantage of the popularity of the video web site.
Now as Obama and his team prepare for the 2012 elections he is taking to another of Google's products. Obama is already on Facebook and Twitter, on the latter of which he began writing personal messages signed with "-BO" since June of this year. He also joined Tumblr last month, showing he's not afraid to extend his internet reach.
However, the entry into Google+ is significant for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it represents a vote of confidence in Google's viability as a rival to Facebook, because his campaign team would be unlikely to invest in a medium that had little potential reach. Last month Google claimed it had already passed the 40 million user mark on Google+, a significant figure for such a short lifespan.
Secondly, it opens up a host of new communication methods for Obama, with the most likely to cause a stir being Hangouts, a feature for group video chat amongst people in one's Google+ Circles. While it's not yet clear if Obama will make use of this, it does present an interesting option for getting even more in touch with the people.
The day to day operations of these social networking projects are run by his campaign team, but Obama will likely step in from time to time to make some personal appearances.
While it might still be the new kid on the block, Google+ could play a pivotal role in Obama gaining a second term in office. µ