Post-Election Facebook Popularity

After Governor Romney’s loss to President Obama last week, support from his fans poured into the comments on his Facebook posts. At first glance it seemed that, despite getting defeated at the polls, Romney still had the love of many a Social Media user. After the excitement and proverbial dust began to settle around the election, some hawk-eyed Social Media users noticed a rapid change in Romney’s Facebook numbers.

According to websites like Mashable, Mitt Romney’s Facebook Likes have been dropping at a rate of 847 per hour; a rather staggering number. There could be two possible reasons for this sudden drop. One, Mitt Romney might genuinely be losing Likes from both supporters and haters who chose to follow his Facebook posts during the election. Or, two, he could be losing previously purchased Likes by not continuing to pay for them. Some sites claim that sharp rises in Romney’s Likes and in his Twitter followers earlier this year are proof that he was buying followers and fans, which is a common practice for businesses looking to appear popular, and fast. If you stop paying for these services or if Facebook catches on to what you’re doing, a slow bleed of said purchased Likes will occur.

We may never know the true reason, but an educated guess would point toward a combination of both possibilities causing Mitt Romney to lose his Facebook fans and languidly fade into the murky shadows of Internet politics. In just the thirty minutes that it took me to write, edit, and post this blog entry, Romney lost a good 400 fans.

Whether purchased or genuine, his Facebook Likes are an important representation of his Internet presence, which had been lacking from the start. I suppose the supportive saying ‘you can only go up from here‘ doesn’t quite work in every situation.

The Internet Never Forgets

As marvelous as Social Media can be, there’s a side to it that frightens some away from even dipping their toes into the wonderful world of Twitter and Facebook. It’s important to remember that once you broadcast a spittake-worthy message  to your fans and followers, all it takes is one screen-cap for your words to forever loom in the realm of Twitter blunders.

With disappointed Republicans and Romney supporters outraged by President Obama’s recent re-election, many of them took to Twitter to express their opinions. Freedom of speech, right? To an extent. Folks like Donald Trump have been incredibly vocal with their disappointment, inciting backlash from regular Joe’s to popular entertainment blogs like E! who are marking his Twitter account as metaphorically dead, even after he deleted some of the 140-word rants. Trump’s vocality may have been humorous at first, but when the general public and Internet community grows tired of seeing your Twitter rants, you know you’re doing something wrong and abusing your naturally given Social Media rights.

Many pro-Romney Americans also took to popular Social Media venues to express their desire to move to other countries after Obama’s win. Fair enough – and their right to say so – as long as they’re educated on the laws and leaders of said countries. Making incorrect statements on the Internet can launch your message into popularity in no time, causing a frenzy of re-tweets, re-blogs, and mocking messages from fellow users. Take American teen Kristen Neel, for example. Unfortunately for Kristen, she failed to study countries outside of our borders before Tweeting to the world, “I’m moving to Australia, because their president is a Christian and actually supports what he says.

[Images courtesy of Huffington Post]

Kristen’s Tweet went viral, as do many that seem so genuine in their fatuity, sparking responses from Australians themselves looking to correct her knowledge on Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In comes the nastier side of Social Media. When a Tweet goes viral, it’s like opening a floodgate for an unstoppable tsunami of responses from anyone with a Twitter account. Well, almost unstoppable. There is one fix to the bombarding harassment that one can face on Twitter; deleting your account and disconnecting yourself from that blunder.

@KristenNeel_ no longer exists – a direct result of Kristen’s Tweet and the ricochet of seemingly unwanted attention that followed. Perhaps she will make a new Twitter account under an obscure alias, or perhaps this has frightened the teen from using Twitter for the time being. Surely savvy Internet users have already found her other Social Media accounts, and in honor of second chances this blogger hopes she isn’t frightened into deleting those too.

Kristen and others have the right to express their (incorrect) opinions, though this is a very valuable lesson for users launching their thoughts into the unforgiving Web. What you say will be around forever with one click of a button, one screen-cap, and thousands of shares. When in doubt, research what you’re saying so you don’t find yourself in a position of  forced retreat from popular Social Media venues – or in the case of Donald Trump, ostracism.

The Internet’s Election – How Our 2012 Candidates Use Social Media

There is no arguing that we live in a time where the Internet and Social Sharing are taking over how we communicate and how we advertise. With a rather large election date looming and two very outspoken candidates battling for votes, President Obama and Mitt Romney have both taken to Twitter and to Facebook in order to increase their reach. But are they effective?

It’s nearly impossible to log onto any popular Social Media venue today, and not see a friend sharing something about the upcoming election. The majority of Internet users are of Generations X and Y, ranging from age 18 to 42, with an even split between Male and Female. While it’s very true that the older Baby Boomers are starting to use the Internet, it’s quite clear that Social Sharing sites are held in the grasps of younger adults.

How loud of a Social Media voice do these candidates have?

Comparing the size of each candidate’s Social Media presence, we can gauge user following and overall reach to get a better sense of which candidate is best utilizing Social Sharing and how many users and fans they are actually reaching through their various pages.

Governor Romney rounds out his Internet presence using;

While President Obama’s list is longer with;

Arguably, Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular Social Sharing tools today and these two candidates are certainly using them rabidly. President Obama’s Twitter ‘team’, consisting of his personal account, Vice President Biden’s account, First Lady Michelle Obama’s account, the Forward Obama2012 account, and the Truth Team account are well-stocked with upwards of 23,700,000 followers combined. On top of that impressive stash of Twitter pages, his Social Media team has organized state-specific Obama accounts so that his supporters can follow news pertaining to his campaign strictly involved with their area. Mitt Romney’s overall Twitter campaign presence is not as easy to find from his website. Clicking the link to Twitter takes you just to his account, whereas President Obama’s link to Twitter lists several places to find his campaign’s various pages. Through the occasional ‘Follow Our Team’ Tweet, we can see the various accounts associated with Mitt Romney; his personal page, the Romney Response team, Paul Ryan’s personal account, a Team Romney account, and a handful of other advisors and campaign leaders for a total upwards of 1,880,000 Followers combined.

Looking at their Facebook pages, today President Obama has 31,250,792 Likes while Mitt Romney has 10,475,115 Likes. Though the President has had surplus opportunity to harvest such Social Media attention, Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for these two candidates. Their posts to Facebook have the potential to reach millions of ‘Friends of Fans’ whenever someone hits the Share button, and the posts themselves act as forums for open discussion on hot topics. So, not only are supporters sharing the messages of the candidates, but they are sharing the positive and negative responses from each side, of varying age ranges. We can see these reactions in consistent amounts based on post topics; each side has their share of negative comments, which tend to spark heated debates. While for companies using Facebook such debates could promote a negative image, for candidates it is important to have an open venue that welcomes discussion.

Users of Tumblr may be split fairly evenly between male and female, but the majority of users are aged 18 to 49 [source] which makes Tumblr a prime source of young adults who openly share their passions and beliefs. Tumblr is growing in popularity outside of the election, but if we look at the candidates’ pages we can see some differences. While the Tumblr accounts are aesthetically similar with simple layouts and clear messages, President Obama’s Tumblr page has far more participation that Mitt Romney’s Tumblr page, which we can tell based on the number of re-blogged posts. President Obama’s Tumblr is more frequently updated by the hour, while Mitt Romney’s tends to skip a couple of days here and there. On top of that minor difference, Obama’s Tumblr posts made by his Social Media team will see anywhere from 300 notes to over 10,000 notes, whereas Mitt Romney’s Tumblr posts average anywhere from 30 notes to 500 notes. While ‘notes’ themselves are a total number of both Likes and Shares in the Tumblrsphere, they are indicative of a page’s overall popularity and of the value of the messages being delivered.

Google+ is a venue that, though it immediately created a buzz when first released, has lost some interest due to users seeing it as a lack-luster version of Facebook. Both Presidential candidates seem to understand the importance of reaching users via Google+ because, with a high rate of middle-aged males using G+, they have a unique internet audience to tap into. So what are the numbers? Currently Mitt Romney has +994,869 fans on his Google+ page, and President Obama has a whopping +2,249,932 fans, giving the President an edge on delivering Social Media to his young, male demographic. G+ can also provide more interconnected sharing as it deals with personal circles, making the user feel directly connected to each candidate through family and friends with similar interests. It seems that with Obama’s higher number of ‘circles’ on G+, his Social team better understands this idea of interconnectivity.

One surprising tool used by President Obama and not by Mitt Romney is PinterestPresident Obama’s Social Media team is making excellent use of Pinterest, with categories like ‘Just the Facts‘, ‘The First Family‘, and ‘Snacks of the campaign trail‘ full of photos that go out to over 35,000 followers but not updated very often. On top of that, Michelle Obama’s team has a Pinterest page, as do a couple of pro-Obama states. With a demographic of about 70% Female with 50% of users having children [source], Pinterest is an excellent way for the candidates appeal to young, working mothers. While Mitt Romney does not appear to have an official Pinterest page, he does have several pro-Romney Pinterest support pages with around 2,000 Followers. Because Pinterest’s network grew 4,000% in just the past six months [source], it is an invaluably popular image sharing tool that could be better used in this election.

YouTube is being used to it’s fullest potential, by both candidates. President Obama’s 253,407,036 video views on top of his 247,866 subscribers equate to impressive online marketing opportunities. Mitt Romney’s 27,528,384 video views and 25,786 subscribers don’t quite stack up but still leave an impact in terms of viral video sharing. While YouTube sees over 2 billion video views per day, and has 70% of traffic coming from outside of the United States [source], it may not be the best resource to gauge Social media impact on an election win, but it is still a decent indication of online popularity. Through the simplicity of sharing videos, candidates have an open window with which they can air their positive and negative advertisements to billions of Internet users every single day.

Does it really matter to the election, in the end?

The impact of Social Media on advertising has become massively apparent in recent years. It is estimated by Nielsen that, of the 245 million Internet users in the United States, Social Media venues are utilized by 80% of them [source]. Because the purpose of Social Sharing is not simply to put information out there but to take information in, this means that companies and important figures have an enormous audience to reach online via Social Media venues.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to meld in with Generations X and Y, using the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends and share interests, Presidential candidates can shift some attention from traditional advertising mediums like television, radio, and print to reach a new, incredibly receptive audience. These Social Media users, young and old, are influenced by what they see being shared from friends and family and are thus vulnerable to persuasion. I believe that in this election, more so than any election we’ve seen yet, Social Sharing and the way candidates are using such tools, will have a vast impact on young voters.

Clearly, President Obama is winning this Internet Election when number of Followers are tallied across the board. This doesn’t mean he has the young internet-based vote in the bag, but it does mean that his ability to create Socially Viral posts across numerous venues is far more advanced than Mitt Romney’s. Recognizing that it can take time to build these pages up and that President Obama has already had many years to do so, it is important that any candidates who would like to run for President in the coming years begin harvesting their online presence today, so that they may reap the Social Sharing benefits when the time comes.