Obama vs. Romney: Who Had the Better Social Media Presence?
Following Obama’s re-election on Tuesday night, you may have noticed an absurd amount of political analysts explaining all the different reasons for the outcome of the election. There seemed to be about a million factors that came into play, but one thing I didn’t see mentioned on any of the major news networks was social media. So, I decided to look into both Obama’s and Romney’s overall social media presence, and decide which candidate ran a better social media campaign.
To start off, I had to take into account the fact that Obama is far more popular among younger people. Since more young people are active social media users, social networking automatically became a more significant factor for the Obama campaign. For Romney, social media offered an opportunity to reach out to a much-needed demographic. Let’s also not forget the fact that Obama had a four year head start. He’s been gaining followers on Twitter since the beginning of his 2008 campaign, and hasn’t stopped since. Romney, on the other hand, has only been in the national public eye for about a year, and is therefore much less popular on social networks.
As of now, Romney has 1.7 million Twitter followers, a number that is dwarfed by Obama’s 22.9 million followers. (Once again, don’t forget about Obama’s head start.) But this isn’t the only area in which Obama triumphed on Twitter. If you look at his Twitter page, Obama gives links to seven other accounts, including Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and “Students 4 Obama”. Romney doesn’t give any links to his campaign’s twitter accounts, or even his wife’s or running mate Paul Ryan’s.
Obama also did a great job of re-tweeting, while it appears as if Romney barely (if ever) re-tweeted his followers. Re-tweeting gets people talking, and incentivizes followers to mention Obama in their tweets, letting their voices be heard and expanding their network and Twitter presence. You can also check out Twitter’s Political Engagement Map, where they chart both candidates’ most popular tweets throughout the campaign.
Now let’s move on to Facebook. Once again, Obama beat out Romney significantly in likes, 33 million to 12 million. But there is a number on Facebook that might paint a more accurate picture of both candidates’ Facebook presence, and that’s the People Talking About This (PTAT) ratio. When considering this number, Romney actually has the upper hand. With 3 million PTAT, Romney has a 25% ratio. Obama had about 3.5 million PTAT, giving him about a 10% ratio. This tells us that while Obama may have a lot more likes on Facebook, Romney actually did a much better job of engaging his audience.
Facebook also has a much wider range of users, while Twitter users are mostly made up a younger demographic. This definitely gave Romney more of an edge in the Facebook-sphere, with most of his fans being in the 35-54 age range, while Obama was most popular in the 18-24 age range.
Overall, it seems that both candidates were pretty evenly matched on both of the main social media sites. Makes sense when considering how close this campaign was. But as close as it was, I would have to give the social media award to Obama, and this is mostly due to each candidate’s posts in the few days leading up to Election Day. While both candidates were focusing on reminding people to get out and vote, Obama and Romney had very different tones. Obama stayed more light-hearted, while Romney was much more serious, even bordering on morose. Seems like the Romney campaign forgot that social media is first and foremost a form of entertainment. Obama, on the other hand, did a great a job of staying positive, engaging and insightful throughout Election Day.
One thing we can learn from this race is that social media is officially a huge part in American politics, and it will only become more significant in future elections. What kind of role do you think social media will take in the next presidential election? Will it play an even more significant role? Or perhaps fade out and become less important?