This article was published on September 7, 2012

Romney winning the social media war? Nope

Romney winning the social media war? Nope
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]


Mashable, dunk it: “Ultimately, [Romney campaign digital lead Zac] Moffatt has plenty of respect for the Obama digital squad, but thinks his team of dozens of digital employees is just as good, if not better.”

Welcome to what may be an emerging narrative, that Republican candidate for President Gov. Romney has eked out an edge of President’ Obama’s social and digital teams.

Given that the President’s 2008 victory is often viewed through the lens of the effectiveness of his social media operation, if Gov. Romney has managed to catch up, or even best what was once an advantage, it could tip the scales of the coming election. Put another way: the Internet was once a tool that President Obama wielded best, may no longer be his campaign forte.

Only, well, Obama does appear to be winning the digital war, on a number of fronts. Simon Owens, friend of TNW and assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report, has recently published a piece that takes the issue head on, coming to the following conclusion: “No Strong Evidence Romney Is Beating Obama in Digital Media.”

TNW, after running our own analysis, agrees.

Pew’s Damning Figures

From, a synthesis of the recent Pew Research Center study on the use of social media:

The Pew research study […] finds that the Obama campaign is still active on nearly twice as many digital tools and that the online content it produces generates more responses from users on average. Obama has 28 million “Likes” on Facebook versus Romney’s 5 million. On Twitter, Obama and his campaign have tweeted 5,685 times and enjoy 19,169,596 followers. Romney, in contrast, has tweeted 1,109 times and has 996,729 followers.

I highlight those figures as they are raw, and unspun. Thus we can simply state that the President has both more Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and that he has tweets on the order of fives times as often.

Starting from there, how does Team Romney talk away the deficit?

Romney’s Response

From the same piece, the following from Zac Moffatt: “They think that because you tweet more, you must be better at Twitter. [President] Obama tweets 30 times a day – that’s not how we want to use Twitter.”

Fair enough, the Romney campaign doesn’t want to overtweet. There’s something to be said for that. For fun, here are the last few tweets from the @MittRomney account:

By TNW’s count, the @MittRomney account has sent out 9 tweets in the last twenty four hours. So, it’s not 30 a day, but certainly the GOP digital team is quite active.

Perhaps we’re being narrow minded. In his talk with Mashable, Moffatt hit on YouTube as another social network. We return to Simon Owens’ report:

On YouTube, it’s 217,000 subscribers to Romney’s 17,000. You see this level of disparity on nearly every single social media platform out there.

In short, by nearly every metric we can find, Obama leads Romney in terms of digital engagement. does allude to a report indicating that even for all his fans, Obama’s Facebook engagement doesn’t beat Romney’s by much of a margin. That’s a tie of sorts, and doesn’t tip the scales.

There is an edge to all of this, however: taking only the top-down approach is wrong-headed when it comes to this sort of analysis; even if the President is beating Gov. Romney from his personal and campaign accounts, that is not to say that on Twitter and Facebok, Romney isn’t winning.

Happily, thanks to a recent post from Buzzfeed, we have that data as well.

The Convention Facebook/Twitter Scorecard

As you know, the past two weeks have seen the two party conventions, with all their scripted pomp and banal circumstance. Who won? Well, let’s see. Go, Buzzfeed:

From this we can derive the fact that in terms of total engagement, the President and two of his chief surrogates bested Gov. Romney.

Tying this all together: The President leads in Facebook likes, Twitter follows, total tweets, is essentially tied for engagement on his Facebook page (according to, and womped his competitor during the convention scramble for attention.

Exactly how is he losing?

But wait, there’s more

A report published by Apica collected Twitter’s own findings on convention tweet flow. As they noted, here are the figures that matter, via Twitter itself:

During Ann’s address, Twitter reported that she generated as many as 6,195 tweets per minute, with the biggest increase in activity occurring when Mitt joined his wife on stage at the end of her speech. […]

Republican candidate Mitt Romney closed out the Republican National convention on Thursday evening, Aug. 23. During the peak of his speech, he drew 14,355 tweets per minute. […]

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke in North Carolina this past Tuesday, Sept. 4. Her speech drew 28,000 tweets per minute, topping the Twitter records of the week before. […]

President Bill Clinton also lit up Twitter the following night, bringing in 22,087 tweets per minute by the end of his speech. […]

The Democratic National Convention ended last night with President Obama taking the stage to accept the Democratic nomination. His appearance broke the new record for political Twitter activity during both conventions, drawing in 52,757 tweets per minute. […]

And finally, the most popular tweet of the Republican convention? Obama’s.

Therefore, don’t believe the hype. Most certainly, compared to then-Presidential contender John McCain, Romney is crushing it. That, however, isn’t enogh to surpass the sitting President’s digital mojo.

Top Image Credit: ProgressOhio

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