WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) – President Obama’s town hall this afternoon (see related story) was a mix of media — social (in that he took questions on Twitter) and traditional (as he answered them out loud in sentences that ran longer than 140 characters).

Still, it’s another sign the digital world is a huge political player.

With the White House Tweetup, debates on YouTube, and campaign outposts on Facebook, Luddites need not apply for higher office, says Aaron Smith, a research specialist with the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

“Politicians and their political folks are interested in covering as many of their bases as possible.  I’m not sure if there’s another thing that has the reach of those big three tools (Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook),” he told KYW Newsradio.

Smith notes that people who are politically active on social media are also more likely to engage in old-school activism:

“Things like donating money to a campaign, attending a rally, or reaching out to call their friends to encourage them to vote.  So what we really find is that you can reach people online, but what happens online seldom stays online,” Smith says.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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