David Laud of i2i Business Solutions

Real-time, re-election and re-tweets

As Barack Obama appeared through the huge curtains at the Chicago Convention Centre, his smile said it all. The crowd nevertheless said it for him, over and over again, a little like a re-tweet: “Four more years! Four more years….”

With the economy far from recovery and very tough times forecast, the US electorate has remained faithful to the Democratic Presidential incumbent. Obama’s feisty Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, had but one task left; to admit defeat gracefully and in a very public address he did just that.

No doubt the networks will be poring over the multitude of statistical data that such events spew out, but for me there is one clear set of statistics that left me in no doubt of the outcome.

The evidence was part of our modern history.

In the Spring of 2011, a political wave started, initially overlooked by those in power. All too soon their underestimation of the strength of this wave became apparent due in no small part to the turbo charge push of social media platforms.

However, four years before the Arab Spring, back in early 2007 a relatively unknown senator was running for the Democratic presidential nomination against household name, Hilary Clinton. Barack Obama succeeded, and went on, on 4thNovember, 2008, to become the first African American President of the USA, winning the election against Republican candidate, John McCain.

Mr Obama had turned to social media platforms to gather support, raise funds and engage with volunteers - the essential foot soldiers of any successful campaign.

Fast forward now to the US election of 2012, and a political wave is further cultivated. Romney was trying hard to compete but, unfortunately for the Republican, the Democrat is a natural social media communicator and has a team of dedicated experts supporting the cause.

But enough of this blogging rhetoric what about the facts?

On Twitter Mitt Romney has a respectable 1.7 million followers and has made 1,350 tweets. But compare that to Barack Obama’s 22.7 million followers and 8,000 tweets. As if those figures weren’t bad enough, Michelle Obama has more followers than Mitt at a very healthy 2.2 million.

On Facebook, Mitt has worked hard to match Obama, but even his 12.1 million page likes pale when compared to the re-elected president’s 32.8 million page likes, with over 3.5 million actively talking about the content.

Google Plus has smaller numbers, but we’d expect that. Obama has 2.3 million +1’s, and Romney less than half that number at 1 million +1’s.

Of course it’s not all about the numbers, but if your message is being broadcast at those levels through these channels then you have a major advantage, especially if your demographic fits the profile of the more active social media users.

As if to prove the point, Obama’s victory tweet showing his embrace with wife Michelle and the quote ‘four more years’ is now the most re-tweeted tweet of all time, so far RT’d over 650,000 times, beating Justin Bieber who had previously held the record at 223,000.

Whether it proves to be the right decision for America only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure - if politicians have any serious ambitions they need to understand and harness the true strength of social media.

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