MasseyMedia, Inc

Politics: Now it‘s personal - Social Media in Politics

If you have been following any of the political parties, candidates, or movements over the past year or so, you have probably seen an increase in their usage of social media.  The Romney/Ryan camp has been tackling Facebook with a fury and are advertising and promoting using methods never before used by a political candidate.  What Obama/Biden did in 2008, Romney/Ryan are amplifying and honing today.

While Obama holds a very comfortable Facebook Like lead over Romney, the republican has been taking giant steps to catch up.  Today, Obama is sitting on 28.2 million Facebook likes compared to Romney‘s 6.3 million.  On Twitter, the Romney has a little over 1 million followers compared to Obama‘s 19 million.  While the numbers are obviously in the Presidents favor, Romney has been making great strides during the recent weeks averaging about 30,000 new likes per day compared to Obama‘s 10,000.  Romney peaked with about 170,000 new likes per day during his Vice President announcement.

In business, large numbers of social media followers does not necessarily translate in to sales.  The true measure is in engagement "“ how often a brand interacts with their customers via comments, polls, or other actions.  When we look at engagement numbers, both candidates are running neck and neck with about 1.7 million engagements per day.  So, percentagewise, Romney is able to engage his fan base much more effectively that the President.  In addition, Romney is taking advantage of far more new features offered by the social media platform such as sponsored stories and ads.

Now, the Obama social media team is not ready to roll over and give up.  During the RNC, when Clint Eastwood kept referring to the empty chair, the Obama staff was quick to post a picture of the Commander in Chief in his chair that read "This seat is taken".  The response to that single tweet brought team Obama back in to the social media fray after Romney and co started making inroads.

What‘s most interesting about all of this is the accessibility of analytics and real-time statistics.  Twitter has created the "Twitter Political Index" website at http://election.twitter.com/.  This website shows Twitter users‘ feelings towards the US presidential candidates as expressed on Twitter.  If you view the report today, you will see a sharp decline by Romney as the hype and national stage of the convention begins to die out.  What‘s really significant about this index is that, when compared to traditional polling methods, their trends mirror one another.

We are seeing that social media is playing a major role in the marketing and election campaigns of today‘s politicians and that the analytics gleaned from these social media sites are starting to be good predictors of people‘s actual perception of the candidates.  Although social media numbers and analytics will not replace traditional methods, more and more marketers and business owners need to realize and start utilizing their analytics.  What‘s good for the president should be good for the people.

With Facebook and Twitter, these candidates have a powerful platform to communicate directly to their constituents and to get instant feedback from the populace.  Social media provides a platform from which they can speak and a reliable analysis of people‘s perception of their statements.    The more likes or follows from a statement; the people must like it right?

In business, it is always important to determine what your customers want and to provide to them their needs and wants.  In politics and government, it is necessary to make decisions that may not be the most popular, but will benefit the most.  Although it is interesting to see how social media and analytics can be a predictor to mass social events, it is essential to realize that the populace is not always the most informed.  Social Media analytics represent "in the now" opinion that can quickly change based on single statements and news-bites.

With these advanced tools and candidates usage only on the rise, the one thing we know for sure is that politics is becoming much more social and personal.