President Barack Obama is taking a more active role on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.
Obama's campaign said in a posting on its website Friday that Obama will tweet regularly from the popular social media service and his personal tweets will be signed "-BO." The campaign said it will now manage both Obama's Twitter account and Facebook page.
Obama tweeted personally early Friday evening, welcoming followers to "a new (at)BarackObama. From now on, (hash)Obama2012 staff will manage this account; tweets from the President will be signed "-BO."
The campaign said on its website that the changes "will give us new opportunities to make the most of these channels, using them not only to report what the president is doing every day but to connect to the millions of supporters who will be driving this campaign."
Obama has more than 8.69 million followers on Twitter, making him the third most-followed account among Twitter users, according to Twitter statistics website twittercounter.com. Obama trails only entertainers Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber in followers.
Obama's avatar, or photo accompanying his Twitter account, also changed from his official White House photo to a photo of Obama smiling, his 2012 campaign logo resting along the base of the avatar.
Digital media experts said the changes will give the account more authenticity and could lead to the president interacting with followers, using the account to seek contributions or asking them to volunteer for his campaign.
"The best Twitter accounts are the ones that are managed by the people whose name is on the tweet," said Tim Tagaris, new media director for the Service Employees International Union, on the sidelines of the Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis. "People sign up to hear from people on Twitter because they want to hear from that person, not their staff."
Ken Thomas can be reached at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas