This week’s Feedback Friday, weekly social media roundup, is a special Election edition. Whether you’ve been following at the edge of your seat, or couldn’t care less until Election Day, you might be surprised how influential social media is in this race. From unlikely partnerships, social media campaigning, convention monopolies and more—social media is stirring things up for both parties.
Facebook and CNN partnered to launch a new Election Insights webpage this week, intended to “provide voters and political junkies with metrics based on real-time conversations about the presidential candidates.” In addition to the webpage, Facebook produced an “I’m Voting” App that lets users “vote”, endorse and share their candidate of choice with their social network; developed a means to aggregate statistics related to the political discussions happening on Facebook around each candidate; and co-created surveys to collect opinions of voters in critical locations - the results of which will be published on CNN, CNN.com, and the U.S. Politics on Facebook page.
If you’re looking to follow the election through social media there are plenty of options: Twitter's Political Index charts tweets per minute on Obama and Romney as well as overall Twitter engagement and reach.
You can also use Amazon's Election Heat Map 2012 (points deducted for name choice) that tracks the percentage of "red" state and "blue" state book sales over the last 30 days; offers recommendations on political books; and shows which Presidential and VP candidate is the better selling author (you might be surprised!).
Not to be outdone, TIME Magazine announced an election coverage partnership with Foursquare to provide real-time check-in information and in depth to-do lists for convention-goers. TIME Magazine is curating these “guides” (which include both in-house and “escape” suggestions) on Foursquare Lists, and through on-site features including including a ‘check-in’ timeline, interactive map, and location tips.
On the subject of convention activity, Google has become the clear tech leader for live convention coverage. Google is the live-stream provider for the convention, but the company and its affiliate YouTube have also claimed a physical presence in the RNC convention center. The company built a media lounge with Google décor - complete with data screens, a smart phone charging station, an all-glass interview hub that live streams to Google+ hangouts and YouTube, and a reporter’s dream – free coffee.
On the campaign front, Obama took social media campaigning to a new level when he held a live “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) question and answer session on Reddit on Wednesday. Obama answered 10 questions from online visitors covering topics such as unemployment and student loan debt, super PACS, small business growth, the space program, and balancing his personal life and work. Overall, Obama was well received, to be expected since he played to his user base - young, socially conscious, and tech savvy (and fielded questions he wanted to answer). We learned about the session a half hour in, and by then Reddit had already crashed from over-activity. Whether you support Obama or not, as one blogger put it, “what he said on Reddit doesn’t really matter. The act alone of reaching out to potential voters on Reddit -which served more than two billion page views in December - and other online communities is now imperative.”
While Obama leveraged social media, Romney’s staff claims they don’t care about the numbers. Romney has been criticized for failing to connect with voters through social media - a recent Pew Research study found that President Obama "holds a distinct advantage over Mitt Romney in the way his campaign is using digital technology to communicate directly with voters." Romney was also scrutinized for his social media practices, which suggest he bought thousands of fake Twitter followers in one day to catch up – a “black hat” social media tactic. But Romney's Digital Director Zac Moffatt told press this week he is not concerned about “vanity metrics” and believes Romney's Facebook following, which is a fifth of Obama’s, has more “engagement”. To his credit, Romney's digital team has been increased to over a hundred people and the candidate has done some of his own posting. But as AdAge points out, engagement does not translate into direct votes or even intent to vote for either candidate especially in a half-dozen or so swing states where it really matters, nor do they show how close the race is based on the latest polling data, which basically put the candidates in a dead heat.