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What Kept Social Buzzing During the State of the Union?

After seven years and countless political battles President Barack Obama still manages to turn out a crowd. Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address Tuesday night generated close to 1.4 million tweets, with about a million of those coming during the speech itself.

That’s a ton of engagement, but what does it all mean?

Using Cision Global Insights, we tracked Obama’s control of social share of voice and top conversations to let the data tell the story of Obama’s eighth and final State of the Union address.

Learn how social media has reacted to the current presidential candidates. Check out these posts!

Not once did Obama name a 2016 Republican candidate in his address, but he did take shots at them. Standing in the battlefield for his Democrats, Obama argued that America’s destiny is in jeopardy when the political system is in the grasp of the rich and powerful.


A few minor hits aside, Obama’s address will be remembered for laying out an overall optimistic tone in the face of opposition, which led Slate to label it his “cockiest State of the Union.”

As Obama said the U.S. has made significant progress on economic and national security issues and offered a positive vision for the future, those on Twitter offered their own opinions.

Here are the three most discussed topics related to the State of the Union on Twitter.


1. Middle East

Obama’s address came the day of a suicide bombing in Istanbul by the Islamic State and just hours after Iran detained two small Navy boats and 10 Americans.

Understandably, the Middle East was the most talked about topic during the State of the Union, sparking over 57,000 social conversations:


2. Economy

On the economy, Obama’s address hit a series of familiar Democratic themes: he backed labor unions and called out Wall Street for our nation’s economic crisis.

Like many in public roles, Obama has had a long road proving to the American public the change he’s influenced, but like anyone trying to prove results he relied on data to show his efficacy.

As the 2016 presidential election draws near, Obama took the opportunity to share data that demonstrated where the nation was before he took office and where we are now.

The uptrends and growth shown in hard numbers help solidify his position and showcase the influence he has had on the United States and its people.

It’s in that spirit that we have made the progress of these past 7 years.


Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history.


The economy was the second most talked about topic during the #SOTU, bringing in nearly 52,000 social conversations. Despite Obama’s data, many disagreed with the state of the economy, creating an interesting online debate.

Obama opponents used phrases such as embracing mediocrity, poverty reward and lazy embrace.


Of course, the president had supporters, many of whom took the president’s lead and used data to illustrate their point.

3. Foreign Policy

Obama was on the defense when it came to discussing foreign policy, which happened to be the third most talked about topic during the address, bringing in 41,000 conversations on social.

The president called the Republicans’ harsh threats of an increasing ISIS overblown. Later, the Republican GOP candidates rebuked him for understating the threat of terrorism.

Obama later made an indirect jab at Senator Ted Cruz, who previously urged the President to “carpet bomb” the Islamic State.

“The world will look to us to help solve these problems and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians,” Obama said

Obama also talked about the renewed diplomatic relationship with Cuba. He stated that the previous isolation policy failed as it didn’t promote democracy.

He said the new relationship with Cuba will open the doors to commerce, travel, and overall improved lives with and for the people of Cuba.

Lastly, Obama called on Congress to lift the embargo against the island.

.@POTUS comments on the importance of setting foreign policy priorities. #SOTU https://t.co/vPtMjGtDeu

— Department of State (@StateDept) January 13, 2016

Did you know the 2012 Obama campaign used social analytics? Read the case study to learn how!

Image via Pixabay: 1

About Michelle Dziuban

Michelle Dziuban is the Social Media Manager for Cision, where she has worked since 2012. With a background in marketing and advertising, she loves keeping tabs on emerging industry trends. Most recently, she appeared on one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world, Jay Baer’s Social Pros Podcast (How B2B’s Can Rock Facebook Live Video) and authored a byline on CMO.Com (What CMO’s Need to Know About Live-Streaming). In her free time, Michelle enjoys yoga, running and being outdoors. Find her on Twitter @dziubs.

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