As someone steeped in social media, I’ve been watching each of the presidential campaigns closely to see how they are using social media well – or not. [Disclosure: I worked on Obama’s campaign in 2008 and have donated to it this election season. I also went to the same high school and business school as Romney. To the extent possible, I’ve tried to be objective in my analysis, but inevitable, my biases will come through.] Here are some observations, as well as opportunities for the future:
* It’s Not About the Numbers. I’ve seen many commenters point to the overwhelmingly higher numbers of Likes and Followers that Obama has over Romney on Facebook and Twitter, respectively. It’s easy to get lured by those numbers, but they are highly misleading because Obama has had four years as candidate and President to gather his followers. What will matter in this election is how engaged these followers are, in not only amplifying their candidates’ message, but whether they can get people they know to vote.
* Each Campaign Plays to their Strengths. My colleague, Susan Etlinger, who researches social media analytics, cautioned that looking at the stats alone don’t tell the full story. As an example, she pointed me to recent data from Pew that shows Democrats and liberals as being more engaged politically than Republicans. Her advice: Look at each of the respective campaigns from the perspective of where they are starting from. With Republicans less likely to energize their base via social networking sites, they are more likely to focus on awareness and outreach to Independents, whereas Democrats will be keen to get an disengaged base fired up to get out the vote of intended Democratic voters.
* Romney Makes Smart Use of Facebook Marketing. Romney has made good Facebook ad buys, especially with Sponsored Results where Romney ads started showing up next to search terms such as “democrat” and even “obama”. The results have been significant – Romney has been gaining...