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Obama uses Twitter to apply political pressure

US president Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached an agreement last night to cut deficit spending and raise the US debt ceiling.

The decision comes after the president used an interesting tactic to try and sway Republican congress members.

On Friday afternoon Obama urged the nine million people who follow him on Twitter to voice their opinion by tweeting at their local Republican congressmen.

The call was followed by Obama's account posting the Twitter handles of a number of Republican congress members to make it easier for his followers to target them.

This move was coupled by Obama's account introducing a hashtag for #compromise which was quickly adopted by thousands of fellow tweeters.

Mixed reactions followed the president's last-minute campaign blitz.

Thousands of followers acted positively to the call, using the social media platform to fuel Twitter campaigns directed at Republican members.

At the same time is reported that over 30,000 of Obama's followers unsubscribed to his account as they became tired of the number of @BarackObama tweets appearing in their feed.

Many complained that the tactic felt like a political spam attack, whilst others relished the opportunity to be a part of a groundswell of political debate.

A number of Republican members of congress saw their number of followers increase, as citizens of the US stake their political allegiance with a few simple clicks.

Social media has long been a key focus of Obama's communications strategy.

Prior to his election in 2008, his large-scale social media campaigns demonstrated forward thinking in the social realm, turning such services as Facebook and Twitter into engaging platforms for political discussion and campaigning.

This weekend's debate has shown the potential for social media platforms to be more than just casual hangouts, with more and more people using them to bring about political and social change.