Can Social Media Pick The Outcome Of This Year’s Presidential Election?

There are those who think so and clearly all candidates across the political spectrum have learnt the lessons of the immediate past.

All have strong social media campaigns running alongside the more traditional ‘pressing the flesh’ variety.

Socialbakers has built a dedicated elections monitoring site and its day to day social media results are revealing.

Visit the site

As I write this, the results of the Republican Iowa vote have just been tabulated showing a surge of support for a previously thought of long-shot, Rick Santorum.  The growth of his Facebook Fan base clearly pointed to this potential result in advance of the vote.

But is the growth of fans a good enough measure to predict an outcome? The answer is no.  Having the largest number of Fans is no guarantee of success.  It is the interaction/engagement factor that is critical and who is talking about you that will count for each candidate.

How many people are actually talking about their Facebook page? Interestingly, Viral Reach mirrors the Facebook’s Insights measurement ‘Talking About This’.

Insights Example - Talking About & Reach

If the presidential hopefuls are measured in this fashion then Ron Paul is the clear front-runner to lead the Republican challenge.

Twitter influence measured through a new tool, KRED, shows that Barack Obama has a high level of influence (998 out of 1000) and Outreach (9 out of 10).

Rick Santorum also has a a high influence score but his total Outreach score is considerably less than the President’s at this stage of the race.

Compared to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum has greater Outreach but less Influence.

But Republican contender Mitt Romney has greater influence than both of his challengers, but less Outreach than Rick Santorum.

As candidates drop out of the race and their supporters shift allegiance these statistics will change.  It is also very early days in the candidate selection process.  That said, monitoring social media this year will give a pretty good indication of a likely outcome on November 6th.

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is a retired international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region.
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