For its first few years, the Biden White House was known for its strait-laced, professional manner. It was down the middle and focused its tone on “coming together” and “healing the nation” post-Trump.
That changed on August 25. After Republicans had criticized the Biden Administration for its student loan relief plan, the typically staid White House Twitter account called out six high-visibility Republicans for accepting PPP loan forgiveness, including Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
While the White House used fairly low-key language—each was a simple statement, naming each lawmaker and the amount of their loan that was forgiven—it signified a new, more aggressive social media approach.
While the success of the tweets can be measured in numbers, pulling the top tweets of all time tells an even more significant story. The six PPP loan tweets were among the White House account’s top eight tweets of all time, with the Rep. Greene tweet coming it at number one. The other two tweets within the top eight were about visits to the White House by K-pop supergroup BTS.
- Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/4FoCymt8TB)
- "Everyone has their own history. We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each every one as a valuable person." (https://t.co/bikkWhWJov)
- Tune in for a briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre featuring BTS. (https://t.co/QGhOALWQgr)
- @WhiteHouse Congressman Matt Gaetz had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/XPgC0pETkp)
- @WhiteHouse Congressman Mike Kelly had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/Syb5Oe8gDG)
- @WhiteHouse Congressman Vern Buchanan had over $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/bXpwJlWRm4)
- @WhiteHouse Congressman Markwayne Mullin had over $1.4 million in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/Vc7mLQa2RS)
- @WhiteHouse Congressman Kevin Hern has over $1 million in PPP loans forgiven. (https://t.co/XsBaqxNZN4)
Combined with the President’s stern address last week on threats to democracy, August saw the second-highest engagement with the White House account of any month so far in the Biden presidency, second only to January 2021 when the Administration took office.
The White House account’s more strident tone and ensuing popularity is a lesson to communicators everywhere—even in larger corporate bureaucracies with a labyrinth of constraints like the White House—to say to their supervisor, “a little creativity goes a long way, and if The White House can do it, so can we.”
Ben Meyerson is a brand strategy principal at Kivvit where he advises non-profits, state and local governments, and companies on their brand identity, advertising, content, and social media strategies. He previously worked as a digital associate producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.