In 2008, Democrats had a tremendous social media advantage. In 2012, that lead has been ceded to the Republicans.
The Democrats activated a legion of young voters who used online tools (mostly unfamiliar to a middle-age demographic) in 2008. At that time, Facebook was used almost exclusively on computers at work and home. The conventions were not social and social media usage at home while watching campaign events (including the debates) was nonexistent.
This year, everything changed.
Smart phones and automated social sharing platformshave driven more engaging and real-time use of social media, enabling automatic posts to Facebook and Twitter at physical check-ins, sharing stations, photo spots and other interaction points. Your presence creates the post.
Republicans have also focused on quality engagement instead of the gross number of followers. Followers and “Likes” are measures of a social media visit. However, there is a difference between a follower who “Likes” a page once and may never see content and the user who engages by commenting and adding recurring “Likes” and “Shares.” Engagement continues to expand the social audience and drives online discussions.
The latest polls show that the engagement strategy is working, especially amplifying last week’s convention. Just like in consumer and brand marketing the GOP realized that engagement trumps volume when it comes to influence. (Read More: Bill Clinton Could Go Rogue at Convention: Klein)
Let’s look at the data that outlines how smartphones, automation, and engagement have been such a benefit to Republicans.
Rules of Engagement
President Obama had a four-year head start on Facebook. His 28 million Facebook fans makes Romney’s six million look weak. Yet, merely collecting fans was a mistake many brands have made with Facebook. Smart brands know engaging people is what drives influence. Getting fans sharing, talking and coming back changes behavior– not clicking a one-time “Like” button. When it comes to engagement Romney is 456 times more effective than Obama. Facebook measures engagement by dividing “people talking about this” by total likes. “People talking about this” is the weekly average of posts, comments, likes and shares. See the photos below for comparison: