As the United States Presidential elections occur only every four years, the use of social media as a campaign tool is a relatively recent phenomena. Coupled with the meteoric rise and widespread use of social media tools such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter the campaigning and discussions in social media now have a direct impact on who is elected as the next President. The election is quite near and both the Obama and Romney campaigns are flush with cash and in a very close race. While anything can happen even just a few days before the election takes place to completely change the character of the race, it is evident that both candidates are leveraging social media now to gain an advantage. Which candidate is winning the ‘Social Media Election’? Let’s examine the social media footprints of the U.S. Presidential candidates to predict the outcome of the November election.
Facebook - The most popular social media platform in the United States is Facebook. With 165,090,720 total Facebook users the service is accessed by over 53 percent of persons living in the U.S. The advantage gained by having a prominent position in Facebook in undeniable. Here’s how the candidates stack up:
Barack Obama – 28,844,377 current Facebook fans, nearly 1 million added in the past month, with 2,247,462 people discussing and posting about him.
Mitt Romney – 7,260,702 current Facebook fans, nearly 2.4 million added in the past month, with 2,167,622 people discussing and posting about him.
While President Obama holds a clear margin in terms of fans with a strong 4 to 1 advantage, Romney appears to be gaining momentum with new users. The number of discussions and mentions on Facebook for the two candidates are relatively equal. The Facebook advantage therefore goes to Barack Obama.
Google Plus – While not considered as dominant as Facebook, Google + is nonetheless and important social media service. Google + was launch in mid 2011 and by September 2012 had registered around 400 million total users. Google itself processes over 7 billion pages views each day with a nearly 86 percent share of the global search market. The power of the social aspect coupled with the search reach make Google an important indicator in the Presidential race. The numbers for Google + are as follows:
Barack Obama – 2,103,859 Google + followers and ranked 4th overall. Obama is following 3,724 for a followers to following ratio of 565.
Mitt Romney – 931,917 Google + followers and ranked 109th overall. Romney is following just 2 (Ann Romney and Paul Ryan) for a followers to following ratio of 465,959.
President Obama gets the edge on Google + with a 2 to 1 advantage in followers and a significant advantage in overall rank.
Twitter – Launched in mid 2006, Twitter has emerged as a strong influence and indicator of what the latest topics and opinions are among its users. Recent statistics place the number of active Twitter users at over 500 million. This social media platform currently generates about 340 million tweets every day and fields another 1.6 billion searches each day as well. The candidates performance on Twitter is as follows:
Barack Obama – Official Twitter feed is https://twitter.com/BarackObama. Obama has 19,570,943 Twitter followers and is following a staggering 673,175 others on Twitter. The official Barack Obama Twitter feed has posted 6,020 tweets since inception.
Mitt Romney – Official Twitter feed is https://twitter.com/MittRomney. Romney has accumulated 1,080,422 Twitter followers and is following a more manageable 269 others via Twitter. The official Mitt Romney Twitter feed has posted just 1,142 tweets since inception.
Once again the incumbent Barack Obama holds a commanding lead on Twitter. Each tweet distributed by the Obama Twitter feed will reach 19 times as many followers as a Romney tweet.
Pinterest – How will the candidates compare on a social media platform that is composed of 97 percent woman? To find out one need only examine Pinterest. Founded in March 2010, Pinterest currently boasts nearly 12 million unique U.S. visitors. It also has the distinction of being the fastest website to crack the 10 million unique visitor barrier. Although growth has slowed of late, the momentum of this unique demographic is still a major online influence. Here’s how the two Presidential candidates (100 percent men) matched up on Pinterest (97 percent women):
Barack Obama – Official Pinterest page is http://pinterest.com/barackobama. Obama’s page lists 33,914 followers. He has accumulated 229 pins and his top page has 47 pins.
Mitt Romney – Official Pinterest page doesn’t exist so we’ll compare the satire page which is http://pinterest.com/fakemittromney. Fake Mitt Romney has a respectable 1,089 followers. He has also accumulated 24 pins. Although a funny spoof page, it doesn’t really count in our standings.
Winner at Pinterest by default is Barack Obama.
LinkedIn – Social network for professionals LinkedIn should be a perfect fit for the Presidential candidates. It is often used to drum up interest when seeking a new position or to highlight one’s credentials. Founded in May of 2003, LinkedIn currently consists of over 175 million registered users. Let’s compare the candidate’s resumes via LinkedIn:
Barack Obama – LinkedIn profile page is http://www.linkedin.com/in/barackobama. Obama currently has about 42,000 LinkedIn followers..
Mitt Romney – LinkedIn profile page is http://www.linkedin.com/in/mittromney. Mitt Romney has about 10,000 followers.
The candidates are participating in a ‘Thought Leaders’ program at LinkedIn which allows specific individuals to be ‘followed’ similar to Twitter. You can also view the entire list of current LinkedIn thought leaders here.
So on LinkedIn both graduated from Harvard while Obama has a 4 to 1 lead in followers. Once again we see that President Obama dominates on the LinkedIn social media platform.
So the President Wins…or Does He?
According to our analysis, President Obama looks to be clearly leading the social media election in this period leading up to the November Presidential election. In the social media platforms we examined, not only did President Obama come out on top, in most cases he dominated the social media landscape. It should be pointed out that these social media metrics are a ‘lagging indicator’ of popular sentiment. That is, the snapshot of social media taken today – really reflects the sum of the time period leading up to today. In the days and weeks prior to the election there may be pivotal events that sway the character of the election and truly determine the next President of the United States.
Additionally, while President Obama holds an edge in social media this may not translate into a true election advantage. That is because according to a recent social media demographic study conducted by Pingdom, social media tends to skew heavily toward a younger demographic. The June 2012 study examined 24 of the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Reddit among others. According to the data collected, fully 92 percent of the social media users were under age 55. Why is this so important? The Census Bureau administers a special survey at the conclusion of every Presidential election year. This ”Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement” details who has registered and voted by a number of demographic factors. It turns out that this research reveals the fact that older Americans vote at a much higher rate than younger Americans. For example in the 2004 Presidential election those 55 and older voted at a 72 percent rate while only 47 percent of younger Americans voted. Therefore, while President Obama holds a commanding lead in our social media election analysis it dramatically under represents the voting intentions of those older than 55. If younger voters turn out in force the election may reflect more of the social media sentiment. If a voter turnout characteristic of historical trends materializes, then Mitt Romney may still lose the social media election while winning the actual election.
To learn more about the Democratic and Republican candidates for President please visit:
Barack Obama – www.barackobama.com
Mitt Romney – www.mittromney.com
http://www.barackobama.com, http://www.mittromney.com, https://twitter.com/BarackObama, https://twitter.com/MittRomney, http://www.linkedin.com, http://www.socialbakers.com, http://socialstatistics.com, http://www.mediabistro.com, http://www.ragan.com, http://klout.com, http://mashable.com, http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012, http://democracysouth.org