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Microblogging the inauguration

Since Facebook started gaining popularity, numerous corporations have latched onto its success to create new and innovative marketing opportunities.  Apparently CNN,…

By Alexis Stoymenoff , in Face Value: Social networking and our generation , on January 19, 2009

Since Facebook started gaining popularity, numerous corporations have latched onto its success to create new and innovative marketing opportunities.  Apparently CNN, one of America’s most valued and trusted news organizations, has joined the club.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

CNN is teaming up with Facebook in its coverage of Obama’s presidential inauguration, allowing Facebook users to update their statuses and monitor their friends’ reactions while watching the inauguration live on

Apparently, CNN and Facebook are taking a Twitter-like approach to this partnership.  They’re encouraging users to update their statuses frequently and respond to both their friends’ updates and to the news.  These short messages are exactly the type of communication Twitter promotes so their users can be constantly informed about what their friends are doing and thinking.

Twitter is often described as “microblogging”, and until now I hadn’t really thought of Facebook as being in that category.  However, updating your status on Facebook does seem to serve the exact same purpose as posting a 140-character Twitter note.

To me, status updates seem kind of pointless unless you have something really important that you want everyone to know.  It’s a convenient way to let people know if you lost your cell phone and got a new number, for instance.  But I don’t need to be notified when my friends are “going to the gym, then to the store, then home, then watching The Hills”.  I guess that’s why I never signed up for a Twitter account.

Microblogging on Facebook or Twitter can be a valuable platform for discussing issues and exchanging commentary in brief messages.  And from time to time, it’s nice to see an interesting update or a humorous remark in someone’s Facebook status.  The problem is that these microblogs can also – very easily – become an outlet for complaining.

“Jack is…stressing out over what to make for dinner! Boo hoo”.  Sound familiar?  So many Facebook users fill their status fields with whiny comments about some trivial issue to invoke sympathetic responses from their friends.

Then again, I shouldn’t talk.  I know I’ve probably posted a few updates like that myself.

I’m hoping that the Facebook updates during CNN’s inauguration coverage will create a meaningful discussion, but it seems like CNN is just trying to capitalize on its connection with this vast social network.

Apart from posting status updates, users are given the opportunity to upload their own photos to a gallery on, a participatory news site powered by CNN.  They’re also encouraged to buy t-shirts from CNN’s online inauguration t-shirt store.  Like many other businesses, this major news organization is cashing in on the public’s excitement surrounding the new president.

Millions of North Americans will be attending Barack Obama’s inauguration, and millions more will be tuning in on TV and online.  CNN and Facebook have figured out a perfect way to give viewers at home a sense of personal involvement in this historic event…why not make some money in the process?


  • Actually I enjoyed watching the CNN videos and the Facebook comments simultaneously…..It was all happening in real time and people were commenting while they were watching, you could feel their excitement, joy and get their critisisms all at once….Some funny comments especially during the Youth Ball for people between 18 and 35 years old…..Some thought the age group should have been older…LOL….Yeah….Can you imagine an 18 year old I loving to dance with a 40 year old youth….ha-ha..???…The word “Twitter” says it all…. Meaningless fluff, but , for the inauguration it did give everyone a chance to become involved and have their say during this spectacular event…..and by commenting it gives a sense of actually being heard and being part of something bigger…..,
    And…..about CNN cashing in by selling T shirts, etc…..Isn’t that what the new president wants, that people start spending to get the economy going…..P.sS I actually enjoyed watching everything on- line instead of the t.v…..I went to the different events and watched what was going on from place to place…..You can’t do that on T.V……Keep on blogging….ell.

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