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Come Hangout With President Obama

Google Inc. announced Monday that President Obama will participate in a 45-minute live video Hangout on Google Plus.

The chat will take place Monday afternoon, Jan. 30, capping a week of social media engagement the White House is planning around the State of the Union speech.

Obama speaks to Congress and the nation on Tuesday.

Google Plus will solicit questions over the video sharing site YouTube, and users will then vote on their favorites. The president will answer some video questions, and will also chat directly with a group of the questioners.

The exchange will appear on the White House Google Plus page, and will be live streamed on the whitehouse.gov website.

Obama participated in YouTube town halls after his last two State of The Union speeches, taking questions submitted to the video sharing site. The planned Hangout goes a step further, offering some of those questioners a chance to interact directly with the president.

Macon Phillips, White House director of digital strategy, said the White House would have no role in choosing the questions or participants in the Hangout.

“For online engagement to be interesting, it has to be honest,” Phillips said. “We want to give Americans more control over this conversation and the chance to ask questions they care about.”

Google has hosted Hangouts with other political figures, including Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. But Obama’s planned Hangout will be a presidential first and is certain to draw more attention to Google Plus, which has battled to catch up with social networking giant Facebook in membership and influence.

The Hangout element “will make for really personal conversation with the president that’s never really happened before,” said Steve Grove, head of community partnerships for Google Plus. “Whether it’s good for Google Plus or not, I guess viewers will decide by how well we pull it off.”

Sidenote: It goes without saying that Google will raise the 10 person limit that is currently in place for Hangouts.

[summary via AP]

James Hickshttp://about.me/jameshicks
James is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of HicksNewMedia, a Digital Publishing and Technology Consulting team providing effective and relevant solutions to individuals and businesses looking to more effective utilize the social interweb. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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