In 2008, Barack Obama revolutionized political campaigning when he took to social media and won over a notoriously apathetic voting generation. He inspired several other national leaders to wade into Facebook and Twitter with varying degrees of success, although none has come close to emulating his success.
Now, the 2012 presidential election campaigns are nearing the home straight and presidential candidates and their running mates are all over social media – like a virus, some ungenerous souls would say. This time round, Obama has some decent competition online and it could be coming from a surprising source.
Opposition running mate makes a break for the lead
In 2008, John McCain made a fatal mistake when he chose Sarah Palin as a running mate. He might have thought that choosing a woman would show his open-mindedness and win him votes but she courted disaster at every turn.
It seems that Mitt Romney has successfully avoided the same fate by choosing Paul Ryan.
According to ivn.us, Ryan actually outstrips Obama on social media, well, at least when it comes to conversation on Facebook. When it comes to generating conversation and mentions, Ryan comes first, then Obama, then Biden, with Romney fourth. Ryan’s Facebook likes doubles that of Biden, even though his page is nearly four years younger. He beats Biden on Twitter, too, and is fast becoming an online fund-raising fundi.
Quantity over quality
Obama is still the most prolific social media user, according to the Pew Research Center. Pew had a look at the interaction on social media for a two-week period in June and found that Obama uploads four times as much content as Romney. He also uses nine different social media platforms to Romney’s seven (five at the time).
However, Romney’s spokespeople have defended their candidate, saying that while Obama is busier Romney generates more interest. His followers are more likely to engage with him and share his updates.
Fair enough, one might think, but the Pew report shows that Obama sends more direct messages to his followers – personalisation is always good – and that he has a more diverse group of followers.
All for naught?
All of this social media interaction could backfire, if an article on philadelphia.cbslocal.com is to be believed. The article cites a study by the University of Pennsylvania, which found that out of 1500 adults, 86% don’t want to see political ads in their social media feeds, no matter how tailored they are.
It’s possible that this is just the feeling after roughly a year of exposure to political campaigning, but politicians all over the world would be wise to take social media saturation into consideration. After all, you can have too much of a good thing.
This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser. Sandy writes on behalf of Mediatorr Digital Marketing, a digital marketing agency that offers clients the full spectrum of online marketing services.