State of the Union expected to heat up social nets

Where to watch, tweet and post during tonight's political event

Social networks are expected to light up tonight as users react to the president's State of the Union address.

President Obama will give the first State of the Union address of his second term at 9 p.m ET. With Obama expected to touch on political hot buttons like jobs, the economy and guns, people are expected to take to their favorite social networks to comment on the issues, vent their frustrations and debate with their friends.

"That's what we do now," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "We're watching on TV but we're also interacting on other devices, like smartphones, tablets and PCs."

With politics, it's all about creating buzz for a candidate, political party or cause.

"The hope is activity from your supporters will be viewed as grassroots enthusiasm rather than pre-planned boosterism," Olds said. "When it comes to politics, it's all about getting your supporters to help you win the PR war."

For tonight's State of the Union address, Twitter will be a busy place. With more than 450 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate having Twitter accounts, there are bound to be a lot of tweets about the event.

Obama's camp will be tweeting during the speech from both @WHLive and @whitehouse, while Republican leaders will be taking questions using the hashtag #SOTUGOP.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will give the Republican rebuttal to Obama's address, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) will deliver the Tea Party response. Both are expected to tweet throughout the evening.

To tweet about the address or the Republican responses, add the hashtag #SOTU to the tweets.

After the debate, a team of senior White House officials will be on Twitter to answer questions that are tweeted with the hashtags #WHchat and #SOTU, according to Twitter.

It won't all be about Twitter, though.

The White House will be live streaming the address on, adding graphics, data and charts about the issues.

Users also can watch the address live on Facebook, YouTube and Google+.

Mobile users can download a free White House mobile app for the iPhone, iPad or Android platforms. The app also provides news from the White House, blogs, press briefings, photos and access to video archives.

Microsoft's Bing is also getting in on politics.

The company created an interactive State of the Union address page, where people can see related tweets from journalists and political pundits, along with links to the latest news stories on the speech, responses and a chart of social network reaction.

On Thursday at 4:50 p.m. ET, Obama is set to host a Google+ hangout and take questions from the public.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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