Record-Breaking Tweets Highlight Social Media’s Role in 2012 U.S. Election

by Jordan Richardson on November 8, 2012

With Barack Obama elected to another four years as President of the United States of America, many are touting the role of social media in the election. A number of Twitter and social networking records were set on Tuesday night, with more than 20 million tweets emerging about the U.S. election – making it the most tweeted-about political event in American history.

This seems to indicate that we have truly entered the digital political age.

Forbes has called the 2012 election “the first truly digital election,” noting that it has been “characterized by 24-hour news content serviced by online comment, 360-degree analysis of candidate speeches and live TV debates that are wrapped with streams of digital vox-popping.”

Social networking has struggled to be taken seriously for some time now. With many ignorant souls still discarding sites like Facebook as the domains of tweens or lifeless Farmville players with no lives, it turns out that the social media’s role cannot be discounted or underestimated as our digital history is forged.

Obama’s camp, within minutes of winning the election, tweeted the image to the above right along with the caption “Four more years.” Within minutes of the tweet, it had supplanted a Justin Bieber tweet as the most-tweeted message of all-time. The Michelle and Barack hug has, at press time, 768,708 retweets.

Another @BarackObama tweet is the second most-tweeted message of all-time.

Also popular on Twitter was the #iVoted hashtag. Users of the micro-messaging site and of the popular photo-sharing site Instagram shared their “I Voted” badges on Election Day. Many took pictures of their first times at the polls and shared the shots with their followers, Facebook friends and other social networking contacts.

The #StayInLine hashtag was also popular, getting caught by national press and international press alike with its exhortations for voters to stay in the extremely long voting lines as long as it took to exercise their voting privileges. Even Obama’s Twitter account got in on the act, tweeting messages and images for people to stay persistent.

All this social media news isn’t just interesting trivia. It actually has application value in the real electoral world, as the candidates who used social media most effectively often found themselves elected. The Obama team, as Forbes rightly points out, “capitalized on the lessons and achievements of 2008 – not using separate media, but looking at how it all hangs together.”

Obama’s team wisely connected with people on social media, offering them advertising and a comprehensive approach. The YouTube channel has over 263,000 subscribers and over 262 million video views, for instance.

Compare that with Mitt Romney’s 29,205 or so YouTube subscribers and over 33 million views. And on Twitter, Obama has about 30 times more followers. On Facebook, Obama has about 14 times more “likes.”

Obviously the message still matters, but how that message is being disseminated is drastically changing with the social media era in full swing. Underestimating that would be, for any political candidate, a mistake.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSSTwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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